Friday Faves

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{Baby Coop, my all time favorite}

Happy Labor Day Weekend! Do you all have fun plans? I’m off to the beach and cannot wait.  This week was spent recovering from my cousin Clare’s wedding last weekend, which was absolutely gorgeous and so much fun. But between the whirlwind of activities (and late night afterparty around the campfire) and the heat wave we’ve been having, I’m ready for a little downtime and some cooler temps. Some fun links and pics to get you through these last few hours until the three day weekend (I hope everyone is leaving work early today!):

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{mini ice cream cone}

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{arcona eye serum – I’ve been using this am and pm with my opal and I think it’s working!}

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{sunrise in the columbia river gorge, scene of my cousin’s wedding last weekend}

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{Coop plus all of my cousins’ kiddos post-wedding last weekend – can you stand the cuteness?}

Peach and Crème Fraîche Pie

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I had a lot of things on my to do list this summer, and as per usual most of them (namely, my golf game, my tan, and my trip to the Hamptons) didn’t happen. But a few did, and happily one of those was to finally make Martha Stewart’s peach and crème fraîche pie. I saw this pie in her magazine years ago but never really had an excuse to make it – who makes pies, after all, besides grandmothers? Crisps and cobblers and just plain peaches with ice cream are so much easier. But the peach dumplings I made last year were such a hit that I thought maybe this summer I should try the pie.  And since we only have a few days left in August, which we all know is the month for peaches, I made it this past weekend. 

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Aside from the crust, this pie is so easy to throw together (although come to think of it, aside from the crust, so is every pie). I actually planned to use a store bought crust, but if you can believe it Whole Foods appears to only sell puff pastry, no frozen pie dough. Ugh. So my “quick dessert” that I planned to throw together in twenty minutes ended up taking the better part of an afternoon, but it was so yummy it was worth it. Simply peel and quarter your peaches and toss them with sugar and a little salt, mix together a quick crumble topping and then (once your crust is ready) you can assemble the pie in about five minutes.  When I searched google for this recipe, I found that Smitten Kitchen had beat me to it (even when I don’t intentionally blog her recipes, I still end up blogging her recipes – sorry Deb!).  In her notes she mentioned that the pie could use a little additional sugar, so when Martha told me to toss my peaches with two tablespoons granulated sugar, I added two tablespoons brown sugar as well.  I also added a little cinnamon to both the peaches and the crumble – not enough to detract from the simplicity of the pie, but just a pinch to spice it up a bit (literally, hehe).  There’s just something about the peach-brown sugar-cinnamon combo that is hard to beat.

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My only note to this recipe (aside from the brown sugar and cinnamon, and my subtle hint to use frozen pie crust) would be to use a “pie shield” to keep the crust from getting too dark.  I’ve seen these in the baking section at Met Market a hundred times and thought they must be a total gimmick – but I made the mistake of walking to the coffee shop while my pie was in the oven and came back to a VERY toasty looking crust.  I tried to cover the edges with tin foil for the last few minutes of baking time, but it was too late.  It still tasted fine, but I was pretty sad – at least, until I noticed that Deb’s and even Martha’s crusts looked pretty dang brown (and Martha even tells you to cover your crust).  This might be less of an issue if you didn’t par bake, but just FYI.

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Yum yummy yum.  The peaches and cream bake together into such a delicious custard, with the crumble adding a little crunch.  I served this on Sunday night after a long wedding weekend, and it was met with unanimously rave reviews. Everyone gobbled it up so fast I didn’t even have time to take a picture once it was all sliced up (it looked so pretty on the inside), which I think gives me an excuse to make it again – only this time, with a frozen crust. Just call me Grandma! 

Peaches, previously: dumplings with bourbon hard sauce, shortcakes

One year ago: pesto, two ways (and one is kale!)

Peach and Crème Fraîche Pie, from Martha Stewart Living

For the crust (you could use any crust you like, including store bought, but I’m going to give you Martha’s pâte sucrée recipe):
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/8 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cold, cut into pieces
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons ice water, plus more if needed

For the streusel: 
1/4 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
Pinch of cinnamon (optional)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, cold, cut into pieces

For the filling: 
4-5 medium ripe yellow peaches, pitted and quartered (I peeled mine)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Pinch of cinnamon (optional)
Pinch of salt
5 tablespoons crème fraîche (I used a little more)

Directions:

Crust: pulse flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor until combined. Add butter and process until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. Add egg yolk, and pulse. With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube until dough just holds together. Turn out dough onto a work surface; shape into a disk. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour, or up to two days.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to about 1/8 inch thick. Fit into a 9 1/2- or 10-inch pie plate (about 1 1/2 inches deep). Trim edge to one inch, fold under, and crimp as desired. Pierce bottom of dough all over with a fork. Transfer to freezer for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover edge of crust with foil. Line crust with parchment paper, and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake, covered, 10 minutes. Remove weights and parchment (keep foil on edge). Bake until pale golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes more. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly; remove foil; reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees.

While the crust is baking, prepare streusel and filling.

Streusel: sift together sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon (if using) in a medium bowl. Using your hands or a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. 

Filling: put peach quarters in a medium bowl and sprinkle with sugars and salt; gently toss to coat.

Put pie together: once the crust has cooled a bit, spread two tablespoons crème fraîche onto the bottom of the crust and sprinkle with one-third of the streusel. Arrange peaches on top; spread or dot with remaining three (or more) tablespoons crème fraîche. Sprinkle with remaining streusel.

Bake pie: at 375 degrees until bubbling and golden brown, about 50 minutes. Cover edge of crust with foil if it’s browning too quickly. Let cool on a wire rack 15 minutes. Serve warm, cold, or at room temperature.

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Lentils with Mint and Feta

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Last summer I posted the recipe for what used to be my favorite Pasta and Co. summer salad.  It was probably the most popular recipe I’ve blogged, at least based on the number of people who told me they actually made it afterwards. And it’s still my sister’s favorite, which reminds me, I need to make it for her as a new baby dinner.  But a couple weeks ago, I was in charge of another new baby dinner and, having completely run out of time to make the salad myself, popped into Pasta and Co. to pick some of theirs up. Unfortunately for me, the couscous was sold out, so I picked up some turkey meatballs, green beans, and a couple different salads that caught my eye, including the lentil salad above. It doesn’t look pretty, but please believe me when I tell you it was the most delicious salad I’ve ever had. So good, in fact, that I had to make it myself the first chance I got – and I haven’t made the couscous salad since. 

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Unfortunately, unlike the couscous salad, the lentil recipe isn’t published in any of the Pasta and Co. cookbooks, so I kind of had to make it up.  Going off of the list of ingredients (so glad I had the foresight to take a picture!), I figured all I had to do was cook some lentils, add red pepper and onion, and then of course feta and mint.  Although I make lentil soup about once a week from October-April, I’ve never actually cooked just plain lentils. And while it’s not hard, I did learn the hard way that they can get really mushy if overcooked.  This salad isn’t the prettiest to look at to begin with, but cooking my lentils an extra half hour or so probably didn’t help.  Trader Joe’s sells lentils already cooked, so you could go that route and save yourself a step.  The mushy lentils were still delicious though – I could have eaten them like soup.

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Aside from figuring out how to cook lentils, this salad is a breeze to throw together. You probably don’t need to “pickle” the onion, but I did as I’m not a fan of raw onions, and I just happened to remember doing so from this recipe (which I should probably make for B&B one of these days!). If you do want to pickle your onion, do so as soon as you get the lentils simmering, and then it will be ready by the time the lentils are finished. Aside from that, it just takes a little chopping and tossing and you’re good to go.  I attempted to write an actual “recipe” but you can pretty much add more or less of anything, to taste.  A lot of people will tell you you need three parts oil to one part vinegar for a true vinaigrette, but I like to start with half and half and then adjust to taste. 

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I told you it wasn’t pretty…but it tastes so good! 

Lentils, previouslysoup (also from Pasta and Co.)

One year ago: cream of fresh tomato soup

Lentil Salad with Feta and Mint, adapted from Pasta and Co. 

Ingredients:
2 cups green lentils (brown would work fine too)
Chicken stock and white wine, for cooking lentils (optional – see your lentil packaging instructions for amounts.  I cooked 2 cups lentils in 2 1/2 cups broth and 1/2 cup of white wine, for a ration of 2.5 cups liquid to 1 cup lentils)
2 red bell peppers, finely diced
1 small or 1/2 large red onion, finely diced
1/2 cup feta, crumbled (or more to taste)
Large handful mint, chopped or torn into pieces (the more mint, the better)
Olive oil
Red wine vinegar
1-2 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon granulated sugar (for onion marinade, optional)

For the lentils:
Cook according to package instructions. The Trader Joe’s brand I used had me simmer mine with chicken broth, white wine, salt, and pepper for 35-40 minutes “or until liquid is absorbed.” The liquid was nowhere near absorbed after 40 minutes, so I ended up cooking the lentils for over an hour and they turned to mush – other recipes I’ve seen tell you to drain the liquid after the stated cooking time, which I’ll do next time in an effort to keep my lentils intact.

For the pickled red onion:
In a small bowl (or tupperware with a lid), whisk together two tablespoons vinegar, two tablespoons water, one teaspoon salt, and one teaspoon sugar, until sugar is dissolved. Add diced onion and toss to coat. The liquid won’t cover the onions entirely but that’s ok. If you have a tuperware with a lid, you can shake it occasionally if you want, but it’s not necessary. Let the onions marinate in the fridge for half an hour (less time is fine but 30 minutes or longer is ideal).

For the vinaigrette: 
Whisk together equal parts olive oil and red wine vinegar (I used 2-3 tablespoons each) with 1-2 cloves minced garlic (depending on how much garlic you like).  Add salt and pepper to taste.

For the salad:
Add red onion (with brine), red pepper, mint, and feta to lentils and stir to combine.  Toss with vinaigrette and add more oil, vinegar, salt and/or pepper to taste. Let chill and serve cold or at room temperature. Garnish with more mint, if desired.

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Dark Chocolate Chunk Zucchini Bread

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Happy stormy Wednesday, friends! Can you believe this weather? The cool(er) temps were a nice reprieve for a day, but two days (or three, per the forecast) is just too much! Although it’s hard to complain about the weather when (a) we’ve had such a gorgeous summer so far, and (b) we have way more important things to talk about, like zucchini bread with chocolate chunks, or my new baby nephew.

When we last met, I was impatiently waiting for Baby P’s arrival.  Anticipating that things might be a little busy once he got here, I had a week’s worth of blog posts drafted and ready to go – all I had to do was hit publish.  But then he was born, and I fell head over heels in love and forgot I had a blog. Or a gym membership, or a blow dryer, for that matter.  All I want to do is hang out with Cooper. But since I would hate for those blog posts to go to waste, there are a lot of B&B treats heading to your inbox in the coming weeks: lentil salad, tomato tart, peach pie…..get excited.

First, though, zucchini bread.  August is the month for zucchini, and when you buy five at the farmers market and it turns out you only need one or two (for a galette or a tart or perhaps even something that doesn’t involve pie crust), zucchini bread is the perfect way to use up the rest. I had developed a nasty banana bread habit before zucchini season rolled around, but luckily this recipe has cured me of it.

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Zucchini bread always makes me think of two people, my uncle Rich and my friend Courteney. We have a “family cookbook” in my family, and the zucchini bread recipe in the cookbook is called “Uncle Rich’s Zucchini Bread.” I can’t remember if Uncle Rich actually makes zucchini bread, or if the cookbook publisher (yours truly) was in a rush to assign everyone a recipe and just put his name on something random (I’m pretty sure it’s the former, but I couldn’t swear to it). Regardless, zucchini bread now makes me think of Uncle Rich. And it also makes me think of Courteney, who is always asking me for the recipe for “Uncle Rich’s Zucchini Bread.”

This is one of those great recipes where you can literally just dump everything in one bowl and stir. Counting your food processor or grater, that’s only two dishes to wash. The cake comes out of the oven crunchy at the edges but with a delicate and not-too-sweet crumb, and then of course the dark chocolate chunks.  I had intended for this to be chocolate chip banana bread, but the Whole Foods baking aisle leaves a lot to be desired and I couldn’t find the chips I wanted – so I went with chunks and I’m so glad I did. It’s still a cake-y type bread, but the zucchini does a lot to alleviate the guilt (and there isn’t that much chocolate). The recipe yields two loaves (or in my case, one regular loaf and two mini loaves) and freezes well, so you can have one now and save one for later. I divided mine between a cousin who has a new baby and a friend recovering from surgery, and it was the perfect treat to wrap in foil and store in their freezers. But it would also be the perfect thing to make and eat yourself on a gray and thunderstorm-y August Wednesday, or to bring over as an excuse to visit your new baby nephew.  Lots of options for us. 

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Zucchini, previously: ricotta galette, carrot muffinssummer squash tart

One year ago: peach dumplings with bourbon hard sauce (one of my top two most popular B&B recipes, at least in terms of how many people told me they made them and loved them), and can we just relive for a moment the best party I ever threw?

Dark Chocolate Chunk Zucchini Bread (adapted from a variety of zucchini bread recipes)

Yield: two loaves, or four mini loaves (or in this case, one regular loaf and two mini)

Ingredients:
3 eggs
1 cup oil (vegetable, olive, or coconut)
2 cups dark brown sugar, packed
2 heaping cups grated, raw, unpeeled zucchini
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup dark chocolate chunks (or any chocolate chunk or chip of your choice)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, optional

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two loaf pans or four mini loaf pans (I like to spray with “PAM for baking“). Crack your eggs into a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Add oil, sugar, and zucchini; mix well. Add vanilla. Stir in flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and spices. Fold in chocolate chunks (and nuts if using). Pour into loaf pans and bake for one hour (mini loaf pans will take about 45 minutes). Remove from pans and cool on wire rack.

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Friday Faves

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{kate spade “one in a million” necklaces}

Happy Friday, friends! What are you up to this weekend? I’m still waiting for my baby nephew, if you can believe it.  At first I thought he was just fashionably late like his favorite auntie, but now I’m afraid he’s bordering on rude.  I had some fun plans this weekend that I’m going to have to miss, but of course it will be well worth it. I’m so excited to finally meet this little person, and to find out his name (my sister and her husband have it narrowed down to two and are going to flip a coin at the hospital – true story).  I have so many personalized and monogrammed items in my (virtual) shopping carts all over the interwebs, I can’t wait to finally complete my purchases with an actual name! Hint: it’s going to start with one of the letters above.

PSA: the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale ends on Sunday. So if you haven’t stocked up already, add that to your to do list for the weekend. My top five recommendations (aside from the Kate Spade necklaces) would be:

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{the beach this past weekend – this is literally a “#nofilter” photo}

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{new favorite face wash}

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{whale wins patio + summer white}

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{I put together this entire whale/beach/nautical themed package for Baby P, and intended for it to be a shower gift until I realized it needed to be “wrapped” in a Land’s End tote with his name on it – and of course we’re still waiting on a name.  And then I got impatient and gave it to my sister without the tote (which of course is in my cart, in two versions). But, isn’t it all just so cute? I’m pretty proud of the fact that I got every single one of these items on sale. The perks of having 20+ weeks to plan. Whale rattle here, beach towel here, all else long gone. Are you sick of all these baby clothes pics yet? At least we know there’ll be an actual baby by next week for sure.}

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Chocolate Chip Mint Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches

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I saw these on my favorite blog a couple weeks ago, and obviously had to make them asap (I should really start to think about unsubscribing from all of these food blogs, as they make it pretty hard to stick to my diet “healthy eating lifestyle”).  I waited until I had a summer BBQ to attend, thinking they would be the perfect thing to bring.  I bet you guys can already see the issue, right? It’s a little embarrassing that I didn’t. As it turns out, ice cream + summer weather + car transport + rush hour = disaster (car transport alone was probably enough to seal their fate, but the 90 degree heat and traffic didn’t help).  Why didn’t I think to put them in a cooler? Unclear.

But here’s the thing, they were pretty melty to begin with. I debated even posting this recipe, because (a) do we really need a recipe for ice cream sandwiches? and also (b) because mine didn’t turn out that well. At least, at first. But as the saying goes, if at first you don’t succeed….try, try again.  And while I may not apply that mantra to any important areas of my life, of course I’m going to try again at brownie ice cream sandwiches.

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While a recipe for ice cream sandwiches is a little superfluous, a recipe for brownies is not. Deb’s brownies are the best – and so easy. Seven ingredients, at least six of which you probably already have in your fridge/pantry (I never seem to have baker’s chocolate, aside from the odd ounce I always have leftover from when I made these brownies the last time).  To make these ice cream sandwich-friendly, you just spread the batter into two layers, either in two 8×8 pans (ideal) or one 9×13 pan (which would also be fine). Secret option number three is to bake two batches in one 8×8 pan, if you can only find one, like me. It’s not the end of the world but next time I’ll use a 9×13, or look harder for my other brownie pan.

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The brownie part is easy (although I would note that these layers are pretty thin, so make sure to let them completely cool before handling, and even then be very careful.  I had the best luck when they were completely frozen). The tricky part is getting the ice cream to stay frozen. I considered glossing over my first attempt, but what is this blog if not an attempt to help you learn from my mistakes?

Deb says you can spread the ice cream over the first brownie layer, top it with the second brownie layer, freeze it for 30 minutes, and you’re good to go.  Perhaps she used better ice cream than me, or has a colder freezer.  But the below photos show my attempt and the sad, melty results.

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Frozen.

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Still frozen.

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Appears frozen-ish.

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Melty mess.  And this is before I had to put them in the car.

Needless to say, they arrived at the party looking less like ice cream sandwiches, and more like 32 thin brownie squares floating in a pool of mint green and vanilla swirled milk.  Tragic. But I made them again, and this time froze the ice cream all by itself in the 8×8 pan (lined with parchment) for a full 24 hours.  I cut the brownies and the ice cream separately and then put the sandwiches together and it worked perfectly. (When I cut the sandwiches the first time the ice cream oozed out – it probably would have been ok if the ice cream had been more frozen but I was afraid to try it out the second time.  Also I think if the sandwich was put together in the pan the cutting would go better as the ice cream wouldn’t have anywhere to go. If you try these at home, experiment and let me know how it goes).

Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches, from Smitten Kitchen

For the brownies:
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt or 1/4 teaspoon table salt
2/3 cup all-purpose flour

For the filling:
2 to 3 cups ice cream (one quart or two pints)

Heat your oven to 350°F. Line two 8×8-inch square baking pans with parchment paper.  Spray parchment with a nonstick cooking spray (I like to spray the bottom of the pan first so that the parchment sticks/stays in place, then spray the parchment and sides of pan generously as well).

In a medium heatproof bowl over gently simmering water, heat chocolate and butter together until almost melted (you can also do this in the microwave – heat in short increments, stirring every 20-30 seconds or so). Remove from heat and stir until smooth. Stir in sugar until fully combined, then eggs, one at a time and then vanilla. Stir in salt until combined, then flour. Try not to over-mix.

Divide batter between two prepared pans and spread evenly — an offset spatula will make this easier. Bake on different racks for 12 to 15 minutes, rotating once top to bottom and front to back, until a toothpick inserted into the center of each pan comes out batter-free. Transfer hot pans directly to freezer (you can put down dish towels or a cooling rack to protect shelves). Chill until cold and firm, about 15 to 20 minutes.

<<This is where my instructions will differ from Deb’s – but I would encourage you to try it her way first if you want.  Especially if you don’t have to transport yours, or if you have the time and energy to do a trial run.  But I think my way is a little more foolproof, albeit not quite as seamless.>>

For sandwiches:
Once brownies have cooled, remove one of the brownie layers from the pan and store on a cookie sheet or cooling rack (these layers are pretty thin so they’ll break easily if they aren’t completely cooled or frozen – be careful!).  Wipe down the 8×8 pan and re-line with parchment (no spray needed this time).  Scoop your ice cream out into the pan, and use a spatula to “smoosh” it into a smooth layer. Cover with parchment and use the second brownie pan to weigh the ice cream down (if you used a 9×13 or only have one 8×8, like me, you can skip this step). Return the ice cream to the freezer and freeze as long as possible. Deb said she only needed 20 minutes – I gave mine over 24 hours and it still started to melt pretty quickly.

When you’re ready to make your sandwiches, cut both brownie layers into 16 squares.  Remove ice cream from the freezer, lift it (using the parchment sling) onto a cutting board, and quickly cut it into 16 squares as well. Make the sandwiches and return to the freezer to let them re-freeze a bit. You’ll want a cookie sheet or a 9×13 pan if you don’t have two 8×8 pans, as it would be tricky to squeeze them all back into one 8×8.

Curry Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce

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I’m not entirely sure this is a blog-worthy recipe, as no one really needs me to tell them how to make chicken skewers, and pictures of raw chicken really aren’t all that appetizing. I’m posting it anyways, though, because at this point in the summer I’m getting a little sick of the same old grilled chicken/fish/burgers and am in need of inspiration.  So I thought perhaps you are too.  

My friend Alison introduced me to this recipe when we were in law school and for some reason decided to throw an Asian-fusion-themed cocktail party in my tiny apartment (any excuse to avoid studying). I made a Chinese chicken salad that I served in mini Chinese takeout cartons, with chopsticks. This was pre-Pinterest so I’m not sure how I came up with that idea (I think it may have been In Style magazine), but I was pretty proud of myself. Alison made curry chicken satay and it wasn’t until then, at age 25 or so, that I realized you could get such a thing outside of a Thai restaurant.

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The only thing remotely challenging about this recipe is giving yourself enough planning time to marinate the chicken.  The marinade itself takes about five minutes (less if your knife skills are better than mine).  Just make sure to soak your skewers while the chicken marinates.

Tyler has you cook the skewers in a grill pan on the stovetop, but I like to do mine on the barbecue (one less dish to clean).  Tyler also gives you a recipe for peanut sauce, which I’m sure is delicious, but mine is easier: just pick up a small to-go carton from your favorite Thai restaurant.  I’ve never had good luck with store-bought peanut sauce, but if you have you could use that too.  If you wanted to make your own, it’s something you could do ahead of time. This makes a great summer meal or app for entertaining as you can even grill the chicken in advance and serve it cold.  It’s going to be BBQ weather all week so if you’re in a grilling rut like me, I hope this helps! 

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One year ago: Baked Halibut with Tomatillo Salsa

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce, from Tyler Florence

For marinade:

1 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon curry powder

For skewers:

1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
20 wooden skewers, soaked in water for about 30 minutes
Vegetable oil or spray, for grilling

Combine the yogurt, ginger, garlic, and curry powder and stir to combine. Pour the marinade over the chicken strips and gently toss until well coated. Cover and let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.

Once the chicken has marinated, thread the chicken strips onto the soaked skewers. Heat barbecue and grease grill. Cook skewers for 3 to 5 minutes on each side, until cooked through.  Serve with peanut sauce.

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