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Domesticate ME! by Serena Wolf - 18h ago

Certain things are such staples in my current life that I often forget they haven’t always been. And while I can’t pinpoint exactly how or when the majority of these wonderful items/practices appeared, I now can’t imagine surviving without them.

(It makes me weirdly happy that younger Serena had no idea these glorious things would be coming down the pike. Surprises are the best!)

A few glaring examples:

I could wax poetic about all of the above (and God knows I have at various points on this site and on Instagram), but I want to focus specifically on the magic of Italian Fried Rice today, as it has yet to receive its blog due.

I’ve been holding off on posting an official recipe for this one-skillet wonder because I’m not sure I’ve ever made it exactly the same way twice. But what I’ve come to realize is that the malleability of this “recipe” is, in fact, its greatest selling point.

You can play with the grain, vegetables, and toppings based on what you have on hand, but the overall impression and flavor party remains relatively consistent. There’s an epic sweet and savory thing happening thanks to the combination of a whole grain, veggies, chicken sausage, and the addictive tart-sweetness of balsamic. And topping the whole shebang with fresh herbs, crunchy nuts, and a creamy cheese makes for truly epic, insanely textured bites. The result is a hearty but not overly heavy meal that’s loaded with fiber, protein, and antioxidants. HALLELUJAH.

Consider the below recipe a roadmap to create your own Italian-inspired dream skillet. I trust your creative instincts, but for those who enjoy specific “you do you” options, these are a few of my favorite ways to riff:

  • Sub farro, quinoa, barley, or pearled couscous for brown rice. Or try cauliflower rice to keep things grain-free.
  • Swap uncooked turkey or chicken sausage for pre-cooked links, or throw in leftover diced or shredded chicken.
  • Skip fresh herbs and top each serving with a dollop of pesto.
  • Keep things plant-based by using your favorite meat-free sausage or subbing chickpeas or white beans.
  • Mix a scrambled egg into the rice or top each serving with a fried or poached egg for added protein.
  • Get in some extra greens by folding in few handfuls of baby spinach, kale, or arugula and cooking just until wilted.
  • A few of my favorite mix-ins/toppings to experiment with: sun-dried tomatoes, pickled jalapeños, pepperoncini, olives, feta, Pecorino Romano, golden raisins, toasted pine or pepitas.
  • This fried rice serves two moderately hungry individuals as written, but don’t hesitate to add an extra ½ cup of rice or sausage link if you’re particularly hungry. Just be sure to add an extra dash of balsamic.

Like I said, this recipe serves two, but it’s easily doubled or tripled for a crowd. And while I love it as an easy weeknight dinner, it’s delightful fresh or leftover as a #sassydesklunch. (I think it tastes equally awesome at room temperature.) Oh, and given that every time I make a version of this rice—which is embarrassingly often—Logan claims he would happily crush it every night, so it’s clearly Dude Diet-approved. Virtual chest bump.

Make the rice, friends. You won’t regret it.

Italian Fried Rice Serves 2

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
6 ounces (2 to 3 links) chicken sausage, sliced in half lengthwise and then sliced crosswise into half moons (Any brand/flavor will do, but I like Bilinski’s Italian or Sun-Dried Tomato Sausage.)
1 small zucchini, cut into a ½-inch dice
1 heaping cup chopped broccoli florets
½ medium yellow onion, finely chopped
½ red bell pepper, cut into a ½-inch dice
Pinch of salt
¾ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 cup cooked brown rice (farro or quinoa is also great!)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (plus extra to taste)
For serving: (optional)
Fresh basil or flat-leaf parsley leaves, thinly sliced
Crumbled goat cheese
Sliced toasted almonds

Instructions:

-Heat 1 teaspoon of the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the sausage, and cook for about 5 minutes until lightly browned. Transfer the sausage to a bowl and briefly set aside.

-Add the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the skillet. When the oil is hot, add the zucchini, broccoli, onion, bell pepper, and a pinch of salt. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and lightly browned. Stir in the oregano, garlic powder, and crushed red pepper.

-Return the sausage to the pan, and add the brown rice and balsamic.

-Fold everything together and cook for another minute or 2 until piping hot.

-Serve rice topped with basil or parsley, goat cheese, and almonds, or fancy toppings of your choice!

Italian Fried Rice

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 6 ounces (2 to 3 links) chicken sausage, sliced in half lengthwise and then sliced crosswise into half moons (Any brand/flavor will do, but I like Bilinski’s Italian or Sun-Dried Tomato Sausage.)
  • 1 small zucchini, cut into a ½-inch dice
  • 1 heaping cup chopped broccoli florets
  • ½ medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • ½ red bell pepper, cut into a ½-inch dice
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¾ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice (farro or quinoa is also great!)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (plus extra to taste)
  • For serving: (optional)
  • Fresh basil or flat-leaf parsley leaves, thinly sliced
  • Crumbled goat cheese
  • Sliced toasted almonds

Instructions

  1. Heat 1 teaspoon of the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the sausage, and cook for about 5 minutes until lightly browned. Transfer the sausage to a bowl and briefly set aside.
  2. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the skillet. When the oil is hot, add the zucchini, broccoli, onion, bell pepper, and a pinch of salt. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and lightly browned. Stir in the oregano, garlic powder, and crushed red pepper.
  3. Return the sausage to the pan, and add the brown rice and balsamic. Fold everything together and cook for another minute or 2 until piping hot.
  4. Serve rice topped with basil or parsley, goat cheese, and almonds, or toppings of your choice!
4.29

The post Italian Fried Rice appeared first on Domesticate ME.

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Happy Fourth of July week, friends!

I’m heading out to visit my in-laws in Idaho tomorrow for a few days, and I’m straight up giddy with anticipatory excitement. It’s beautifully peaceful out there, and thanks to #fitnessjourney, I now relish the long hikes and bike rides that terrified/nearly killed me in years past. Plus, I successfully smooth talked my way out of fishing with my roommate (do not want) and surreptitiously replaced myself with his brother, so this will undoubtedly be our best Western sojourn yet!

Given that the 4th falls on a Thursday this year, and many folks are taking an EXTRA long weekend, it felt timely to share this delightful Summer Tart with Tomatoes, Corn, and Bacon. It’s one of my all-time favorite recipes for easy entertaining, and I hope you’ll consider crushing it with your favorite people this week and all season long.

Here’s the quick breakdown of this sexy summer tart: Sheets of Athens Foods phyllo dough are brushed with garlic-infused olive oil, layered on top of one another, and then topped with nutty Gruyère, juicy heirloom tomato slices, sweet corn, and just enough crumbled bacon for savory flair. The tart is baked until the phyllo becomes perfectly crisp and flaky, the cheese is melted, and the tomatoes and corn are just beginning to caramelize before being showered with fresh basil and drizzled with hot honey. (Deep breath.) Each addictively crunchy bite is a smorgasbord of summer flavors, and you deserve to experience the magic as soon (and as often) as humanly possible. Trust.

I like to slice this tart into squares and serve it as an appetizer (the recipe is easily multiplied if you want to make more than one tart), but it’s also great served as a meal with a big old green salad. Keep that in mind for fancy weeknight dinners, people.

If this summer tart seems intimidatingly impressive, thank you!! But this bad baker is here to assure you that it’s 100% idiot-proof. Athens phyllo dough is super versatile and surprisingly easy to work with (even for the most culinary-challenged folks). To create a tart base, you simply stack about 8 sheets of the phyllo dough, brushing each one with a little oil before layering the next, and then add the toppings. Done and done. The process of stacking and brushing will probably run you about 10 minutes, but it’s pretty painless (and somewhat meditative). And there’s no need to panic if your phyllo stack is a little off-kilter or you tear a few sheets in the process—the layers are very forgiving. Plus, the tart is meant to look “rustic.”

You know it thrills me when you get creative with my recipes, and this summer tart is ripe for personalization. I trust you have plenty of ideas for riffing on this seasonal masterpiece but to be on the safe side, I’m gonna throw out a few ways for you to do you:

  • Choose your favorite cheese. I love the slightly nutty sweetness of Gruyère, but Fontina, Mozzarella, an Italian cheese blend, Parmesan, or goat cheese would all be fabulous. I used a conservative amount (#nakedseason), but you can always be slightly more heavy handed if you wish. You can also ditch the cheese to keep this tart dairy-free. It has plenty of flavor without it.
  • I love taking advantage of summer’s heirloom tomatoes for this tart, but feel free to use any tomato(es) you like. (I sometimes use halved cherry tomatoes, which works beautifully. Just place them cut side up on the tart.) Not into tomatoes? Sub sliced peaches or nectarines—they’re outrageously delicious.
  • Crispy bacon tends to be a crowd-pleaser, but prosciutto, bresaola, soppressata, or sausage are delightful alternatives. Or go meatless. I dare you.
  • Play with herbs!!! In addition to basil, fresh thyme, chives, tarragon, or parsley are all great additions to the summer flavor party. You can also mix some finely chopped herbs into the oil mixture used to brush the phyllo if you’re feeling wild.

Summer Tart with Tomatoes, Corn, and Bacon (Serves 8 as an appetizer; 2-4 as an entrée depending on appetites)
Ingredients:
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (melted butter or ghee is also great), plus extra as needed
1 large garlic clove, grated or finely minced
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper
8 sheets Athens Foods phyllo dough
½ cup grated Gruyère cheese
1 medium heirloom tomato (or tomato of your choice), sliced into thin rounds
½ cup sweet corn kernels (roughly ½ ear of sweet corn—save the rest for another use)
2 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
For serving:
Fresh basil leaves
Hot honey (I like Red Clay brand) or regular honey

Instructions:

-Bring the phyllo dough to room temperature. To prevent the dough from drying out, place the phyllo between damp towels.

-Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment, aluminum foil, or a silicone baking mat. (If using foil, spray with nonstick cooking spray.)

-Add the olive oil and garlic to a small bowl. Season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper and whisk to combine.

-Place one sheet of phyllo on the prepared baking sheet. Lightly brush with the olive oil mixture. Layer with another sheet of phyllo, brush with oil, and repeat with the remaining sheets of phyllo. (If you run out of olive oil or butter, don’t panic. Simply add use a little more. Duh.) While you’re working with the phyllo, re-cover the dough every time you remove a sheet to keep it from drying out.

-Sprinkle the cheese on top of the stacked phyllo, leaving a roughly 1-inch border around the tart. Top with tomato slices, corn, and bacon.

-Fold the dough in on itself on all four sides of the tart to create a border. (You can skip this step if you like.)

-Transfer the tart to the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the phyllo is golden brown.

-Top the tart with basil and drizzle with hot honey. Slice and serve.

Summer Tart with Tomatoes, Corn, and Bacon

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 8 appetizer servings

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (melted butter or ghee is also great), plus extra if needed
  • 1 large garlic clove, grated or finely minced
  • Pinch of salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 sheets Athens Foods phyllo dough
  • ½ cup grated Gruyère cheese
  • 1 medium heirloom tomato (or tomato of your choice), sliced into thin rounds
  • ½ cup sweet corn kernels (roughly ½ ear of sweet corn—save the rest for another use)
  • 2 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
  • For serving:
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Hot honey (I like Red Clay brand) or regular honey

Instructions

  1. Bring the phyllo dough to room temperature. To prevent the dough from drying out, place the phyllo between damp towels.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment, foil, or a silicone baking mat. (If using foil, spray with nonstick cooking spray.)
  3. Add the olive oil and garlic to a small bowl. Season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper and whisk to combine.
  4. Place one sheet of phyllo on the prepared baking sheet. Lightly brush with the olive oil mixture. Layer with another sheet of phyllo, brush with oil, and repeat with the remaining sheets of phyllo. (If you run out of olive oil or butter, don’t panic. Simply add use a little more. Duh.) While you’re working with the phyllo, re-cover the dough every time you remove a sheet to keep it from drying out.
  5. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the stacked phyllo, leaving a roughly 1-inch border around the tart. Top with tomato slices, corn, and bacon.
  6. Fold the dough in on itself on all four sides of the tart to create a border. (You can skip this step if you like.)
  7. Transfer the tart to the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the phyllo is golden brown.
  8. Top the tart with basil and drizzle with hot honey. Slice and serve.
4.29

This post is sponsored by my friends at Athens Foods. Thank you so much for supporting the brands that help keep Domesticate Me alive and kicking!

The post Summer Tart with Tomatoes, Corn, and Bacon appeared first on Domesticate ME.

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Summer is in full swing, friends! The sun is shining, the soles of my feet are black from walking in sandals (fellow New Yorkers, you get it), I have at least half an inch of good old humidity frizz on my head, and I’m consuming rosé, watermelon, and grilled things at a somewhat alarming clip. All is right in the world.

While I love many things about naked season summer, the general increase in casual entertaining tops my list. Seeing people barbecuing, potlucking, and picnicking on the reg thrills me, so I thought I’d encourage such activities by providing my best sexy summer side options. From colorful salads and slaws to the most crowd-pleasing mac and cheese, all of these festive recipes can be paired with almost any grilled meat or fish or served as part of a plant-based party spread. Many are also easily prepped ahead and happen to be both packable and sun exposure-friendly should you wish to travel/dine al fresco with them.

So, whether you’re looking to switch up your weeknight side game or are in search of some inspiration for a summer soirée menu, I’m hoping there’s a little something on this list that speaks to you. Get after it.

12 Sexy Summer Side Dishes:

Mexican Street Corn Salad. This salad has the epic flavor profile of street corn, but it’s a little lighter and fresher thanks to omitting the devil’s condiment mayo, and adding some chiles and lots of crispy bacon. Each bite is a fiesta flavor explosion that’s smoky, sweet, and slightly spicy with a refreshing citrus tang. Perfect for pairing with just about any protein you can think of or added to a “smorgasbord salad” plate.

Quinoa Broccoli Slaw. Light and tangy with a killer crunch, this slaw is a delightfully versatile, surprisingly crowd-pleasing side for any and all summer soirées. Don’t even get me started on all the glorious health benefits. (Fiber and antioxidants out the wazoo, people.)

Pasta Salad with Arugula, Roasted Red Peppers, and Sweet Corn. I think this terrifically tasty, highly textured pasta salad has serious potential as a summer side staple. Roasted red peppers and sweet corn is a killer smoky-sweet combo, baby arugula provides necessary, good-for-you greenery with a peppery kick, and fresh basil and goat cheese brighten things up. A generous drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar pack a serious flavor punch while also keeping things light, bright, and (perhaps most importantly) sun exposure-friendly for those who love to picnic/bbq al fresco.

Grilled Watermelon with Jalapeños, Feta and Honey. If you’ve never tried grilled watermelon, that needs to change immediately. It’s a warm weather revelation, friends. Brushing thick slices of melon with a little bit of olive oil, adding a pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper, and then throwing them on a very hot grill for a couple minutes does wonders for this glorious summer staple. The melon takes on a subtle smoky flavor that actually intensifies its sweetness, elevating the fruit to insane levels of deliciousness in 4 minutes flat. With the addition of savory feta, spicy jalapeños and honey, this side (or festive cocktail hour treat!) becomes particularly sexy.

Arugula and Farro Salad with Cherries and Goat Cheese. I’m on a perpetual cherry kick during the summer months, and they’re particularly magical when tossed with creamy goat cheese, peppery arugula, cool mint and spicy red onions in this nourishing salad. Farro provides some necessary heft, and the whole shebang is tied together with a maple-sweetened citrus dressing. It tastes like summer and happiness. Chilled rosé recommended.

Zucchini Noodle Salad with Spicy Almond Dressing. Bright, fresh and unbelievably textured, this vegetable noodle salad is a serious flavor party with plenty of feel-good benefits. (The amount of fiber and antioxidants packed into each vegetarian serving is quite impressive.) And please mentally prepare yourself for the wonders of the spicy almond dressing.—it’s almost guaranteed to become one of your favorite dressings/sauces/condiments.

Roasted Potato Salad with Pancetta, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Arugula. The heat from the crispy roasted potatoes helps them soak up the simple vinaigrette and gently wilts the arugula in this “salad,” which is a truly magical thing. Sun-dried tomatoes lend just the right amount of toothsome sweetness and acidity into the mix, and between the crispy potatoes and pancetta, there’s plenty of crave-worthy crunch.

Summer Kale Salad with Strawberries and Avocado. I like to think this massaged kale salad with creamy avocado, juicy strawberries, crunchy toasted pine nuts, and goat cheese is the belle of the summer salad ball. She dances well with almost any protein partner, but I’m partial to a simple grilled chicken paillard or flank steak.

Summer Vegetable Quinoa Bake. This killer casserole is loaded with all of summer’s finest produce—zucchini, summer squash, corn, red bell pepper, and juicy cherry tomatoes—your favorite trendy whole grain, and…count it….THREE cheeses. Goat cheese lends its signature creamy tang, Fontina acts as the requisite melt-y staple, and Parmesan gets folded into the garlicky panko topping for a lil extra savory fun. It can absolutely be served as a meatless meal, but I’m partial to it as a satisfying side for summer entertaining since it can be prepped in advance (just hold off on the top layer of cheese and panko) and baked just before serving. 

Roasted BBQ Cauliflower Salad. This showstopping rainbow-hued salad is fantastic alongside almost any meat or fish, especially cilantro-lime grilled chicken, grilled herb shrimp, and marinated skirt steak. Fun fact: You can prep the salad several hours in advance—just keep the BBQ cauliflower separate and wait to slice your avocado—and then dress it whenever you’re ready to serve.

 

Chipotle Mac and Cheese with Bacon. This mac was amongst the first recipes ever posted on this blog, and while the pictures may not be the sexiest, I stand by it being one of my finest culinary creations. It is creamy, cheesy, smoky, bacon-y perfection, and I urge you to whip it up for a crowd at least once this BBQ season. 

Grilled Eggplant with Fresh Mozzarella, Tomatoes and Basil Vinaigrette. Simple and delicious, this grilled eggplant situation is my favorite “rustic chic” side. I know eggplant is divisive, and I get it. It can often come out undercooked and spongy, or overcooked, oily and flavorless. But this perfectly grilled eggplant might just convert an eggplant hater or two. With the right amount of olive oil and a little bit of salt, the grilled rounds become lightly brown on the outside and amazingly creamy on the inside. Paired with fresh mozzarella, diced tomatoes, and a bright basil vinaigrette, it’s the ultimate summer taste treat and can be served in a variety of exciting ways (on grilled bread! individual stacks! on a platter!). Try it.

The post 12 Sexy Summer Side Dishes appeared first on Domesticate ME.

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At this point in your weird blog lady’s life, there are very few recipe “concepts” that I haven’t tackled on this site. Over the past 7+ years, I’ve dipped into myriad cuisines, flavor combinations, and meal types—from vegan bowls to ridiculously indulgent food porn fantasies (see here and here) and many thangs in between.

However, there are a handful of recipe requests that I’ve been putting off for a very, very long time. I’ll occasionally get DMs or emails asking if I have a recipe for these things, and thanks to my best friend Google Analytics, I know people are searching for them on the blog as well. A few examples: deviled eggs, pimento cheese, classic coleslaw, spinach-artichoke dip, and the oft demanded “pasta salad.”

At first glance, these recipes might seem unrelated, but upon closer inspection, you may notice that in their traditional forms, they all rely heavily on a certain ingredient…

Mayonnaise.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, mayo is a personal dealbreaker. If you love the devil’s condiment mayo, get down with yo’ bad self—I shall never yuck another’s yum—I just can’t do it. (Although I have been forced to eat it many times over the years so as not to offend a host. I try not to think about those experiences.)

Obviously, many mayo-heavy recipes can be revamped using similarly textured subs like yogurt or avocado, and that’s something I do on the reg (heyo, chicken salad). I’ve just never been inspired to make a creamy pasta salad of any kind. I think this is mostly due to the fact that I associate pasta salad with summer barbecues and picnics, and I’m not big on creamy things of any kind sitting out in the sun. Sue me.

So, when a friend recently begged for a pasta salad recipe for an upcoming barbecue and reminded me that there were zero pasta salad options on the blog, I thought I’d oblige with an option that KO’d creaminess in favor of a simple oil and vinegar dressing. Enter: Pasta Salad with Arugula, Roasted Red Peppers, and Sweet Corn.

I think this terrifically tangy, textured pasta salad has serious potential as a summer side staple, friends. Roasted red peppers and summer sweet corn is a killer smoky-sweet combo, baby arugula provides necessary, good-for-you greenery with a peppery kick, and fresh basil and goat cheese brighten things up. A generous drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar pack a serious flavor punch while also keeping things light, bright, and (perhaps most importantly) sun exposure-friendly.

In other exciting news, this pasta salad comes together with minimal fuss in roughly 45 minutes, only about 10 of which are hands-on. Plus, it’s easily packable/portable, and can be made your own in infinite exciting ways. I love this as a vegetarian side, but should you want to work in some meat, crispy bacon or prosciutto or a little bit of sliced salami would be killer. If you’re not into roasted red peppers, replace them with fresh or roasted cherry tomatoes, and don’t hesitate to play with cheese (I love feta and Pecorino Romano in this) or ditch it altogether to keep things plant-based.

While I envisioned this pasta salad as a party-ready side dish, it’s equally fabulous as an entrée, so keep it in mind for summer lunches and dinners. (If you go the entrée route, try it warm—it’s surprisingly satisfying.) One quick serving note—if you do travel with this salad or prep it ahead, wait to add the arugula and goat cheese until just before serving for the best texture. I also like to freshen leftovers with a little extra oil and vinegar.

I highly recommend following my lead and getting all of the ingredients for this delightful pasta salad (and any other summer recipes you have in mind!) delivered by my longtime friends at Peapod Delivers. Peapod is offering you $20 off of your first order plus 60 days of free delivery with code: SERENA20. They also stock everything you could possibly need for parties and picnics—from travel containers to plates and cutlery. HALLELUJAH.

Pasta Salad with Arugula, Roasted Red Peppers, and Sweet Corn

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 6 side servings

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces fusilli or rotini (I like to use whole wheat, but you do you.)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 ears sweet corn, shucked and kernels removed (roughly 1½ cups sweet corn kernels)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces roasted red peppers packed in water, roughly chopped (About 1 cup chopped peppers)
  • 3 packed cups baby arugula
  • 1/3 packed cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta al dente according to the package directions. Drain and add to a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to prevent the pasta from sticking and let cool to room temperature.
  2. Meanwhile, heat ½ tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the corn to the pan and season with a little bit of salt and pepper. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the corn is bright yellow and lightly browned in spots. Transfer the corn to a bowl and let cool to room temperature.
  3. Add the cooled corn, roasted red peppers, arugula, basil, and crushed red pepper (if using) to the bowl with the pasta. Drizzle with the remaining 1½ tablespoons of olive oil and the vinegar and toss to combine. Add half of the goat cheese and gently toss again. Taste and season with a little extra salt and pepper if needed. (You can also add a little bit more oil and balsamic if you like.)
  4. Serve immediately topped with the remaining goat cheese.
4.29

This post is sponsored by my longtime friends at Peapod Delivers. All opinions are very obviously my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep Domesticate Me alive and kicking.

The post Pasta Salad with Arugula, Roasted Red Peppers, and Sweet Corn appeared first on Domesticate ME.

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One of my favorite “activities” when I can’t fall asleep at night is to mentally design my dream house. Not only is it much more fun (and arguably less creepy) than counting sheep, but it’s also a surprisingly effective method of quieting this weird blog lady’s anxious mind.

Over the years, I’ve constructed quite the Nancy Meyers-inspired palace and matching lifestyle for my future self. Middle-aged me—who happens to look exactly like current me thanks to an unflagging dedication to my skincare regimen—dons mostly neutral linen outfits while gliding gracefully about my not-so-humble, light-filled abode.

I spend most of my time in the open-plan kitchen, complete with copper cookware suspended above a massive, granite-topped island, which is the most loved and highly trafficked room in the house. The kitchen’s French doors open directly onto a stone terrace with an outrageous grill and dining set-up, where I host fabulous al fresco dinner parties featuring simple but delicious fare like these Mediterranean Skirt Steak Flatbreads and extra chilly rosé.

Needless to say, this bedtime exercise is very productive. When it comes time for my roommate and me to move to Southern California and build this dream house, there will be very little design work left to do! Current Serena is very excited for future Serena. (She is already hoarding linen outfits…)

In the meantime, I’ll just be in my NYC kitchen whipping up these summer-y flatbreads on my grill pan and drinking extra chilly rosé on the couch. (Potentially naked, unless my broken AC gets fixed soon.)

No matter what your grilling set-up and feelings about extra chilly rosé may be, I highly recommend taking these Mediterranean Skirt Steak Flatbreads for a spin this summer. Loaded with hummus, spiced skirt steak, a vinegar-spiked vegetable medley, and savory feta, these flatbreads are a versatile, flavor-packed feast with serious crowd-pleasing potential. And with Father’s Day on the horizon, I can’t think of a better meal (or shareable appetizer!) to whip up with/for the dads in your life.

A few quick recipe notes and you do you options. Skirt steak varies in thickness, which is why the cooking window is so large—anywhere from 2 ½ to 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. In general, it cooks quickly so be careful not to overdo it, especially if you have a thin steak! If you’re using a grill pan, cut your steak crosswise into two or three pieces, so that they fit in the pan. The piece of steak with the narrow “tail” tends to cook more quickly, so you’ll want to take that out of the pan before the other piece(s).

If you’re not into steak, top your flatbreads with grilled chicken or shrimp. You can play with flavored hummus if you’d like, and feel free to mix up the fresh herbs or add some greens (I love arugula) to the vegetable mix. I occasionally sub goat cheese for feta because I dig its creamy tang, but the cheese is really gilding the lily here, so you can always leave it out.

I highly recommend following my lead and getting all of the ingredients for these flatbreads and any other grilling recipes you have in mind delivered by my friends at Peapod Delivers. They have an unbelievable selection of everything from meat to condiments, and their Summer Vibes page is a good place to grab some inspiration and snag all your summer essentials. Peapod is also offering you $20 off of your first order plus 60 days of free delivery with code: SERENA20.

Mediterranean Grilled Skirt Steak Flatbreads

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pound skirt steak
  • 1½ teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup very thinly sliced English cucumber (mini cucumbers are also great)
  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced crosswise into rounds (or quartered)
  • ½ cup very thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 naan breads (or flatbread of your choice, i.e. pita)
  • 1 cup hummus (homemade or store-bought)
    For serving (optional):
  • 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • Fresh parsley
  • Crushed red pepper

Instructions

  1. Remove the steak from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature (20 to 30 minutes).
  2. Meanwhile, combine the smoked paprika, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, and garlic powder in a small bowl. Briefly set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the cucumber, tomatoes, and red onion. Drizzle with red wine vinegar and olive oil and toss to combine. Season with a tiny pinch of salt and pepper if desired. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  4. Pre-heat a grill or grill pan over high-heat.
  5. Rub the steak all over with the spice mixture. Once seasoned, slice the steak crosswise into two pieces of roughly equal size. (If you’re using a grill pan, you may want to cut the steak into 3 pieces so that they’re not too long for the pan.)
  6. Place the steak on the hot grill and cook for about 2½ to 5 minutes per side for medium rare. (Skirt steak varies so much in thickness, which is why the cooking window is so large here. In general, it cooks quickly so be careful not to overdo it, especially if you have a thin steak! The piece of steak with the narrow “tail” tends to cook more quickly, so you’ll want to take that off the grill before the other piece(s).) Transfer the steak to a cutting board and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Slice thinly against the grain.
  7. While the meat rests, warm the flatbreads. Place them on the hot grill for about 1 minute per side, just until grill marks appear.
  8. Spread each flatbread with ¼ cup of hummus. Top with sliced steak and the cucumber mix. Garnish with feta, parsley, and crushed red pepper if you like.
4.29

This post is sponsored by my longtime friends at Peapod Delivers. All opinions are very obviously my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep Domesticate Me alive and kicking.

The post Mediterranean Grilled Skirt Steak Flatbreads appeared first on Domesticate ME.

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‘Tis the season to celebrate dads, friends!

As with all holidays, Father’s Day ain’t about the presents. Hugs, heartfelt cards, gestures like cold beer breakfast in bed or some old-fashioned QT will always do a dad right. But should you wish to go above and beyond and gift the dad(s) in your life a little something special this year, I have a few fun ideas for you.

Whether he’s a bacon aficionado, golf addict, nap expert, music lover, outdoorsman, or the somewhat rare male skincare junkie, I’m hoping there’s a perfect present for every type of dad on the list below.

Cheers to the dads! Happy shopping, friends…

2019 Father’s Day Gift Guide:

1. Zingerman’s Bacon All Year Club. I gifted this club membership to my roommate for Christmas, and we have both become deeply obsessed with it. We now call the Saturday of the week the bacon arrives “bacon Saturday” and get creepily excited about possible bacon-themed creations. The bacon itself is bomb, but Zingerman’s also sends interesting bacon facts and creative recipes to be stored in the bacon binder provided in your first shipment. FUN FOR ALL AGES. The all year club is pricy, so if you’re not down to go all-in on an annual membership, try their quarterly option, or simply pick a bomb bacon or two from their online shop.

2. Lunya Restore Sleep Mask. Eye masks can be very helpful in getting the best possible sleep (especially when it comes to weekend mornings/naps/etc.), and your favorite dude(s) deserves better than a crappy airline mask! This one is super comfortable, breathable (so he won’t get too sweaty), and fits those with large domes.

3. Mother Dirt Skin Recovery Kit. Some men love skincare, some couldn’t care less, but I think it’s safe to say that most prefer a low-maintenance routine. Mother Dirt’s biome-friendly products aim to balance the skin, so that anyone can achieve great skin using minimal products. This kit contains a cleanser, moisturizer, and probiotic mist (which is a staple in my personal routine), and it’s an excellent option for all skin types. Give a dad you love the gift of glow.

4. Putt-A-Bout Par Three Putting Green. If you’ve got an obsessive golfer in your life, this putting green would be an excellent addition to his office (or perhaps a less trafficked room of your home?). Practice makes perfect.

5. Framed Concert Poster. Sourcing a cool concert poster of a dad’s favorite band/musician and getting it framed is always an epic personalized present. I once gave Logan a signed Widespread Panic poster, and he almost passed out. (He really, really loves Widespread though, so I can’t promise the same reaction from other dudes.)

6. Felix Gray Blue Light Filtering Glasses. For the dad who spends his life in front of screens! Overexposure to the blue light emitted by screens can cause eye strain, increase the risk of macular degeneration, and affect sleep. These glasses are a rather stylish way to filter blue light and reduce its negative effects.

7. Yeti Rambler 24-Ounce Mug. Is it even a Serena gift guide without a #notsponsored Yeti product?! Yeti’s latest offering is this large beer mug, which will keep a dad’s favorite brews unfathomably frosty. I suppose it could also be utilized by extremely aggressive coffee drinkers.

8. Muse Meditation Headband. Know a dad who could use a little extra chill? This meditation headband is an EEG device that interprets your mental activity to help you meditate more effectively by producing guiding sounds. When your mind is settled, you hear peaceful weather through the headband, and when your thoughts are racing, you’ll hear stormy weather, cuing you to bring your mind back to your breath. The headband connects to an app that provides guided meditations (if you want them) and also tracks your brain activity during a mediation session so you can view your results afterward. Neat.

9. Sitka+ Rechargeable Lantern. This funky lantern has an amazingly long battery life and is perfect for camping or simply hanging outside at home. It also has two USB power outputs so you can charge phones or other small devices and a colored light feature should a dad decide to turn up and/or host a mini rave.

10. Sea Star Men’s Mariner Denim Espadrilles. Waterproof and stylish, these denim espadrilles are the ultimate summer shoe. They look equally fabulous with swim trunks as they do with khakis or linen pants, and according to my roommate, they’re very comfy. I’ve linked to the these at Barney’s because this color is no longer on the Sea Star site, but Sea Star does have many other color options here.

11. Iron Throne Toilet Decal Sticker. Should a dad in your life be a GOT die-hard with a sense of humor, I highly recommend upgrading his throne with this ridiculous decal.

12. The Dude Diet. Because I’m a business woman. (But honestly, I believe this book is a great dad present across the board.)

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Domesticate ME! by Serena Wolf - 1M ago

As of this weekend, it’s unofficially summer. And I am officially pumped.

I often make fun of the fact that a lot of New Yorkers tend to jump the gun on seasonal changes, but if I’m being honest…I’m one of them.

Tuesday after Labor Day? It’s fall. So what if it’s still 90 degrees, I shall happily suffocate myself in a turtleneck and boots and start stockpiling pumpkin spice. November 1? Winter is coming. CRANK THE CHRISTMAS MARIAH. It’s above 45 degrees in February? Happy Spring, everyone!!!

And now? We’ve made it to Memorial Day weekend. I don’t care if there’s another month of technical spring, it’s summer, dammit. We must take our clothes off, grill everything, and drink the appropriate seasonal cocktails.

In celebration of the long weekend, naked season, and life in general, I made us a cocktail. As you can see, it’s a very fetching shade of pink and is garnished with thyme, which makes it look all kinds of fancy. It is boozy, yes, but also easy drinking, and therefore it performs equally well as a brunch drink, poolside refreshment, or pre-dinner aperitif.

So, without further ado, please allow me to introduce the Strawberry Thyme Cooler.

As per usual, the recipe below makes one cocktail. I do this because I think it’s easier to scale up than down, and there are so many occasions when one requires a single drink (i.e. bathtime, Tuesdays, etc.). If you do feel like going the batch cocktail route, you can muddle a the strawberries, thyme and lemon juice in either a cocktail shaker or a pitcher, strain them (use a colander if you go the pitcher route), then stir in the vodka and St. Germain up to a day in advance. When ready to serve, give the mix a stir, and pour it into individual glasses with ice before adding the club soda. Boom. Party time.

It’s not quite strawberry season yet (although I did find some good looking ones this week at the market), so if you don’t see any sexy strawberries or simply don’t like them, feel free to sub other fruits here. Any type of berry would be delightful, as would stone fruit (peaches, cherries, plums, etc.).

This cooler is plenty sweet to me, but I am not a super sweet drink person. If you are (no judgment), you may want to add a touch of honey or agave to your muddled strawberry mix. You do you.

CHEERS to you and yours on this fabulous holiday weekend. If you happen to need some extra seasonal cocktail inspo, I’ve got lots of ideas for you here.

xox,
Weird Blog Lady

Strawberry Thyme Cooler

Yield: 1 cocktail

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup hulled and diced strawberries
  • 1 sprig of fresh thyme
  • ½ ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1 ounce St. Germain
  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 2-3 ounces club soda (depending on personal taste)
    For garnish:
  • Sliced strawberries
  • Thyme sprig

Instructions

  1. Muddle the strawberries, thyme sprig, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker. Add the St. Germain, vodka, and some ice, and shake vigorously to combine.
  2. Strain the cocktail into a glass with ice and top with club soda.
  3. Garnish with sliced strawberries and a sprig of thyme. Bottoms up!
4.29

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There are so many versions of a “healthy” diet these days, and a lot of them are in direct conflict with one another. Fat is bad! Fat is the best! Don’t touch gluten! Eat whole grains! Never consume carbs! Coconut oil is our savior! Coconut oil is the devil. Eat small meals! Eat large meals and don’t snack, dammit. It’s all very confusing, and people can get very judgy  up in arms about this stuff.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I support all diets and lifestyles if they make you feel good. Period. Want to be a gluten-free pescatarian who does keto on the weekends and only eats sweet potatoes upside down during the full moon? Get it, girl/dude. YOU. DO. YOU. Every individual is different, and we each have to figure out what works best for our body.

With that said, I think the one thing everyone can agree on when it comes to healthy eating is that eating more plants is a plus. (I personally think Mark Bittman said it best: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.) In the spirit of encouraging vegetable consumption—and responding to increased demand for more vegetarian meals from this weird blog lady—I’ve rounded up some of my most delicious and satisfying meatless meals. Some are gluten-free. About half are vegan. A few are paleo. There’s even a handful of Dude Diet-friendly options. So I’m hoping everyone will be able to find something that floats their boat…

20 Satisfying Vegetarian Meals:

1. Roasted Cauliflower and Farro Salad with Sun-Dried Tomatoes. This recipe holds a special place in my heart for its versatility. It can be served warm or cold, is ripe for modifications (broccoli instead of cauliflower! basil subbed for parsley! barley in place of farro! etc.), holds up fabulously in the fridge for a few days, and travels well. It may just be my favorite #sassydesklunch of all time.

2. Butternut Squash Noodle, Black Bean and Kale Enchilada Bowls. I love me the sweet, savory, smoky flavors of butternut squash and black bean enchiladas, but I’m not always down with the time commitment, which is when I turn to these simple bowls. Made with spiralized butternut squash (many markets now sell pre-spiralized butternut squash or sweet potato if you don’t have a spiralizer), black beans, kale, and a sprinkling of (optional) goat cheese for creamy tang, this comfort food fiesta always hits the spot, is loaded with fiber, potassium, and disease-fighting antioxidants, and comes together in under 30 minutes!

3. Summer Vegetable Quinoa Bake. This baby is loaded with all of summer’s finest produce—zucchini, summer squash, corn, red bell pepper, and juicy cherry tomatoes—your favorite trendy whole grain, and…count it….THREE cheeses. Like all quinoa bakes, it can be prepped up to a day before baking, freezes well (wait to add the top layer of cheese and panko until just before baking), and reheats like a dream. 

4. 5-Ingredient Skillet Eggs with Spinach and Cauliflower. If you’re in the market for a fuss-free anytime meal, look no further, friends. There’s something about tender, caramelized cauliflower florets and greens in good tomato sauce that always hits the spot, and the fact that the whole shebang comes together in 30 minutes with only about 7 minutes of hands-on time is clutch. Plus, if you eat it straight out of the skillet like I do, you only have to clean one dish. Can I get an amen?

5. Portobello Fajitas with Chipotle Cashew Cream. The fiesta veggie mixture in these fajitas is solidly spiced with a chipotle kick and just the right amount of lime-induced zing, and I really dig the meaty texture of the portobellos. Are they simple? Yes, laughably. I’m talking 30 minutes tops from start to finish, and the hardest thing you’ll have to do is clean some mushrooms.

6. Roasted BBQ Cauliflower Salad. There’s a lot of flavors involved in this vegan smorgasbord salad, but they all complement each other beautifully, and the textures involved will blow your damn mind. I highly recommend keeping this one in mind for entertaining given its festive rainbow vibe.

7. Zucchini Noodles with Portobello Bolognese. This, friends, is a ridiculously delicious and insanely nutritious option for when you’re craving a bowl of pasta but still want to keep things light/tight. The veggie-heavy, herb-laced sauce is shockingly hearty thanks to the meatiness of Portobello mushrooms, and tossed with al dente zucchini noodles, it’s feel good comfort food at its finest.

8. Roasted Sweet Potato, Kale and Black Bean Enchiladas. Sweet and savory with a subtle tang and kick of heat, the flavor profile for these babies is insane. There’s depth, and texture, and cheesy deliciousness, and DEAR GOD the smell! The ingredient list is on the longer side, but the recipe is 100% idiot-proof (I promise), and the enchiladas can be fully prepped in advance and then refrigerated/frozen to be baked wheneva.

9. Quinoa Risotto with Roasted Asparagus and Sun-Dried Tomatoes. There are obviously many differences between traditional risotto and this quinoa version, but I’m a big fan of quinoa in this format. The cooking process with the quinoa is much less labor intensive than with arborio rice (all of the stock gets added in one fell swoop, so you don’t have to do the incremental pour-hover-stir routine), and quinoa is significantly higher in nutrients. And while quinoa doesn’t release starch as it cooks, the addition of an herb puree and Parmesan cheese at the end of the cooking process makes the “quinotto” wonderfully creamy.

10. Cauliflower Rice Bowls with Spring Vegetables and Arugula Pesto. I won’t bore you with a laundry list of this bowl’s nutritional benefits, but trust me when I say there are many, and they are great. I’m talking fiber, antioxidants and immune-boosting vitamins/minerals out wazoo, and I swear you’ll feel significantly smarter and prettier after this plant-based feast! (The arugula pesto is also a great fridge staple to have on hand for bowls, salads, pastas, and sandwiches. SO GOOD.) 

11. Sweet Potato Burrito Bowls with Summer Vegetables and Quinoa. With a little organization, these epic, nutrition-packed burrito bowls can be on the table in about 30-40 minutes, and the recipe is easily doubled or tripled to feed a crowd. Cold leftovers (if you have them) are surprisingly awesome (like a fiesta quinoa salad!), but I like to warm them up and get an egg involved for a sexy breakfast.

12. Ginger-Scallion Soba Noodles with Roasted Cauliflower. As you may have gathered from the number of meals featuring it on this list…I love nothing more than roasted cauliflower. It just gets so beautifully caramelized and buttery in the oven and pairs well with almost anything, but it’s especially delicious with the slight nuttiness of buckwheat soba noodles in this recipe. A simple ginger-scallion dressing lends awesome umami flavor with just the right amount of heat, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice just before serving brightens things up. The resulting dish is simultaneously comforting and refreshing, and I’d like everyone to try it. Please and thank you.

13. 30-Minute Chana Masala. To be clear, this is NOT an authentic chana masala. I didn’t use whole cumin seeds and lovingly toast them before adding the other ingredients to the pan. There’s no ghee involved, and I was far too lazy to embark on a wild goose chase to find amchoor powder. This is a cheater’s version of chana masala. I shamelessly capitalized on every possible shortcut because I’m not trying to spend hours and hours making dinner, but I swear this quick and dirty combination of chickpeas, tomatoes, onions, and a heady blend of ground spices still creates a complex, satisfying curry with a killer kick. 

14. Caprese Quinoa Bake. This was one of my very first quinoa bakes, and it’s still in my top 3. It’s a summer taste treat, which also happens to be quite the visual showstopper. GET ON THIS ONE. 

15. Quinoa Green Goddess Bowl with Crispy Chickpeas and Lemon-Tahini Dressing. Despite the 40 minutes that you need to roast those chickpeas, whipping up this detoxifying bowl is a breeze. It makes an amazingly satisfying lunch or dinner, and you can easily prep it in advance and then add the avocado and crispy chickpeas right before serving. I highly recommend eating this for dinner and taking leftovers to work with you, since it’s pretty much the definition of a sassy desk lunch.

16. Grilled Vegetable Quesadillas with Goat Cheese and Pesto. This recipe is an oldie but a goodie and an excellent addition to your meatless grilling rotation. Packed with fresh grilled vegetables, melted mozzarella and creamy goat cheese, these are the classiest quesadillas that you’ll ever come across. The hint of garlicky sweetness from the basil pesto adds a little bit of je ne sais quoi and makes these quesadillas completely irresistible.

17. Mexican Sweet Potato and Black Bean Stew with Quinoa and Kale. This stew sort of tastes like a deconstructed of these enchiladas but with a smoky red sauce. It’s got that glorious sweet and savory flavor combo going for it with a subtle, chipotle-induced kick. (You know I love me some chipotles in adobo.) The..

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Mother’s Day is less than two weeks out, do you know what you’re getting the moms in your life???!!

Mother’s Day obviously isn’t about presents. It’s about appreciating the amazing mothers in our lives and showering them with the love and gratitude they deserve. Quality time in person or over the phone on May 12 is wonderful. So are hugs and a delicious home-cooked meal (possibly served in bed). But…

PRESENTS ARE ALSO GOOD.

I’ve always found my mom tricky to shop for, and based on my group text and DMs, I’m not alone in this struggle. So, in the hope of making all of our lives a little bit easier, I’ve taken the liberty of gathering a few gifting ideas (at a variety of price points) to celebrate the mom(s) in your life. Happy shopping!

p.s. Should you be a mom who would like to receive any of the below, I’ve been told emailing this post with “hint, HINT” in the subject line has proven very effective in the past.

Domesticate Me’s 2019 Mother’s Day Gift Guide

1. Homesick Candles. These delightfully kitschy candles (which come in three sizes!) are made to smell reminiscent of various countries, cities and states. They also make “memory” candles with titles ranging from “summer camp” and “first kiss” to “four twenty” and the aptly titled “thank you, mom.”

2. Urban Stems. Flowers are always a good idea, and a bouquet from Urban Stems is an excellent way to step up your floral gifting game. I recently received one of their arrangements, and not only were the blooms beautiful and artfully arranged (killer colors and variety!), but the packaging was super festive. Each bouquet arrives in a colorful box that unfolds when you remove the lid. https://urbanstems.com/

3. All Around Giant Monstera Towel. This fun giant towel is perfect for poolside lounging, beach days, and park picnic. Should your recipient not be much of a plant lady, this towel also comes in a variety of other designs, including a particularly fetching watermelon.

4. Yeti Rambler Wine Glasses. Despite their refusal to acknowledge/sponsor me, I will continue foisting Yeti’s magical products on you for as long as I live. They recently launched rambler wine glasses, and I couldn’t be more thrilled for wine drinkers everywhere. 

5. Erno Laszlo Multi-Task Eye Serum Mask. These eye patches are my favorite for depuffing and smoothing tired eyes. Perfect for any mom who may not be getting as much beauty sleep as she’d like.

6. Iridescent Scale Earrings. Pretty and special, these layered statement earrings look as fabulous with jeans and a t-shirt as they do with fancy formal wear.

7. Family by Hetty McKinnon. I’ve waxed poetic about Hetty McKinnon’s culinary genius many times before, but her latest veggie-heavy cookbook may be her best yet. Filled with vibrant, flavor-packed, cookable vegetarian meals and heartwarming stories about the importance of family, this book would make an excellent addition to any healthy home cook’s collection.

8. Where The Fuck Is My Phone Tray. THE STRUGGLE IS REAL. Help a woman you love out. (This tray also comes in other iterations…glasses, keys, etc.)

9. FaceGym Gift Certificate. Who doesn’t want lifted, glowing skin and a feel good face massage?! A trip to the FaceGym is a killer present for the mom who lives for skincare and/or deserves some pampering. I recommend treating her to the Party Face “workout” for maximum R&R and results. Sadly, this present is only good for NYC and London moms (or visiting moms!), but it was too good to leave out.

10. Gaby Dalkin Ultimate Seasoning Set. Gaby Dalkin is one of the brightest stars in the food world these days, and her signature seasoning blends are guaranteed to be a hit with moms who love to cook.

11. Frayed Shopper Bag. Unique but still neutral, this festive (and affordable) tote is equally at home in the city or on the beach, which makes it a great summer staple for the chic moms in your life.

12. Ibiza Kaftan. A good kaftan is hard to find, people, and this one by Monday Swimwear is a classic. Breezy and effortlessly chic, it makes the perfect summer/vacation staple and will flatter any body type. I also love the brand’s Tahiti Pant for moms who prefer slightly more tailored beachwear.

*If nothing on this list speaks to you, you may want to check out my 2018 gift guides for Beauty and Wellness Junkies, Domestic Goddesses, or Home Décor and Style Enthusiasts

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I used to have a rather intense obsession with an American Chinese chain restaurant called Panda Express.

It was an integral part of my ‘tween Saturday nights. Arguably the highlight. As long as I promised to text on my giant Nokia cell phone, bring a sweater in case I got chilly in my Juicy Couture tube top, and be at the meeting spot at 10pm, my mom would agree to drop me off at the outdoor mall in downtown Santa Barbara to meet my friends for an evening of debauchery.

And by debauchery, I clearly mean trying on clothes at Wet Seal (maybe hitting up Claire’s if we were feeling fancy), arguing about which boy in our class looked best with frosted tips, and then treating ourselves to a high class feast of orange chicken and egg rolls at Panda Express. I was LIVING, people, and not gonna lie, I really miss that phase. If I did it again, I’d probably forego the Winona pixie cut and eat even more orange chicken, but hindsight is 20/20.

I can’t remember the last time I had Panda Express, but given the fact that I still salivate involuntarily at the mention of its orange chicken, I was instantly drawn to the version in my friend Liz Moody’s epic new cookbook Healthier Together. I would have made her Crispy Orange Chicken at some point, but the fact that she specifically called out Panda Express as her teen hangout and recipe inspiration prompted me to get on it ASAP. It also reminded me why I like her so much. (Liz repeatedly tells me how much she hates baths, and we are still friends, so I clearly like her a LOT.)

I was skeptical that she could create a good-for-you version of this classic, but after treating myself and my roommate to a Crispy Orange Chicken dinner this week, I’m thrilled to report that my girl delivered. Not only was the chicken (served over an unexpectedly magical base of lemon-spiked broccoli rice) addictively sticky-sweet, but I also felt light and fresh after eating it, which isn’t exactly how I would describe my 12-year-old self post-Panda.

You know I live for healthier comfort foods made with real ingredients, and this recipe—which gets its orange flavor from actual orange zest and juice (shocking, I know) and is thickened with the gluten-free magic of arrowroot powder—speaks to me on a spiritual level. In fact, most of Liz’s recipes do.

We have very similar food philosophies (eat real food that you love, try not to drive yourself crazy with restrictions, have fun, etc.) and shockingly similar palates, so if you’re typically down with my recipes, I think you’ll dig Healthier Together. It’s packed with simple but creative flavor-packed recipes that will make you feel GOOD. A few that are currently at the top of my to-make list: Mexican Street Corn and Quinoa Bowl, Zucchini Noodle Pad See Ew, Falafel Flatbread, Cornflake Fried Chicken with Hot Honey, Way More Veggies Bolognese.

I think what I love and relate to most about Healthier Together is the message behind it: It’s infinitely easier to meet our health and happiness goals if we do it with another person rather than flying solo. Cooking is an act of love and an amazing way to connect with other humans, and Liz’s book encourages you to make and share meals with someone else—whether that’s a partner, friend, family member, coworker. PREACH.

Almost all the recipes in Healthier Together serve 2 (rare in the cookbook world) and is great for those of us (me!!) who aren’t cooking for a family. With that said, they could easily be doubled or tripled, and they’re great for feeding the solo chef with one thrilling portion of leftovers. If you choose to cook the recipe with someone you love, Liz provides tips on how to divide and conquer (i.e. in this recipe, one person works on the chicken, while the other preps the broccoli rice), which is pretty damn genius if you ask me.

One more quick note on this fabulous book before I leave you. 80% of the recipes are vegetarian, and most are gluten- and dairy-free. Can you add meat to them? Sure. But I also get a LOT of vegetarian/vegan recipe requests, so if you’re down with veggie meals, this book is right up your alley.

Oh, and I was honored to speak on a panel with Ali Mafucci of Inspiralized to celebrate the launch of Healthier Together last week, and Liz recorded it for her podcast! We talked about what it means to be “healthy,” finding balance in the wild wellness world, food, happiness, and life in general, and it was such an honest, fun, insightful conversation. If you’re interested in hearing your weird blog lady try to control her cursing and talk about her pre-fitness journey potato days, you can listen here.

Crispy Orange Chicken with Lemon-Ginger Broccoli Rice Serves 2

Ingredients:
For the chicken:
½ cup vegetable broth
Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 tablespoons coconut sugar (if you’re not a fan of super sweet things, I’d use 1-1½ tablespoons)
1 teaspoon peeled, minced ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons low-sodium tamari or soy sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
4 teaspoons arrowroot powder, plus 1/3 cup for coating chicken
1 large egg, beaten
½ cup coconut oil
2 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts (about 1 pound), cut into 1-inch pieces
Sesame seeds, to garnish
2 green onions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced, to garnish
Red chilies, seeded and chopped, to garnish (or crushed red pepper)
For the broccoli rice:
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon peeled, minced ginger
3 cups broccoli rice (purchased or from about 1 head of broccoli, washed, trimmed, and pulsed in a food processor until it reaches a rice-like texture)
Fine-grain sea salt or kosher salt
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

Instructions:

-Make the chicken. Combine the vegetable broth, orange zest and juice, rice vinegar, coconut sugar, ginger, garlic, tamari, and toasted sesame oil in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the sauce until it’s reduced by one-quarter, about 5 minutes. Add the 4 teaspoons of arrowroot powder, a little bit at a time, whisking until the sauce thickens (this will happen quickly!). Remove the pan from the heat.

-Set up a frying station next to the stove with the beaten egg in one wide, shallow bowl and the 1/3 cup of arrowroot powder in a separate wide, shallow bowl. Melt the coconut oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Dip the chicken in the egg, allowing any excess to drip off, then into the arrowroot, turning to coat and pressing to adhere.

-Add the chicken to the pan, working in batches (I did three) to avoid overcrowding, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes per side, until deep golden brown all over.

-Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

-Meanwhile, make the broccoli rice: Melt the coconut oil in a large skillet with low sides over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until very fragrant. (Be careful not to burn the garlic!!) Add the broccoli rice and a generous pinch of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 6 minutes, until the broccoli is softened. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lemon zest and juice. Taste and add more salt as needed.

-Wipe out the pan, then add the fried chicken and the orange sauce, and toss to coat and warm through.

-Serve immediately over the broccoli rice, topped with sesame seeds, green onions, and red chilies/crushed red

Crispy Orange Chicken with Lemon-Ginger Broccoli Rice

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients

    For the chicken:
  • ½ cup vegetable broth
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar (if you’re not a fan of super sweet things, I’d use 1-1½ tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon peeled, minced ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 4 teaspoons arrowroot powder, plus 1/3 cup for coating chicken
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts (about 1 pound), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Sesame seeds, to garnish
  • 2 green onions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced, to garnish
  • Red chilies, seeded and chopped, to garnish (or crushed red pepper)
    For the broccoli rice:
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon peeled, minced ginger
  • 3 cups broccoli rice (purchased or from about 1 head of broccoli, washed, trimmed, and pulsed in a..
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