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A Style Guide to the Best Apple Watch Bands for Summer Travel

Summer is always the best time to travel. The weather is warmer, and the evenings are brighter. As you change your wardrobe to suit the current weather, it’s imperative that you also switch to a more summer-friendly Apple watch band. In this style guide, we will list the essential factors you must consider when shopping for an Apple watch band for summer travel.

Best Apple Watch Bands for Summer Travel

• Material

As you already know, there are different Apple watch band materials. Not all are ideal for summer travel. Silicone should be your top pick. It is more resistant to sweat and water damage. Silicone is perfect for outdoor activities, and it’s pretty comfortable. The other options worth considering should be ceramic and metal. If you are planning a summer vacation, please keep off leather Apple watch bands. Most of the time, it will be soaked in water, and most leather straps are not water-resistant.

• Color

Summer is the best time to pull out flashy colors and florals. When shopping for an Apple watch strap for summer travel, color plays a crucial role. It goes without saying that you should opt for brighter colors such as white, rose gold, yellow, or orange. The last three tend to come off as a little bit bolder. Therefore, if you crave something bright but not too exaggerated, rose gold iwatch strap is an excellent option.

• Design

Last but not least, you need to consider the design. Apple watch bands come in a wide range of designs. You can choose from the solo loop to adjustable straps. When it comes to design, you need to find something special and appealing. Once you settle for the material and color, look through various designs until you find something that meets your taste.

The Bottom Line

When shopping for an Apple watch band for summer travel, you must be mindful of the material, color, and design. That’s the only way you can be assured of finding a strap that looks good and allows you to comfortably indulge in summer vacation activities.

It’s a Date

Sometimes life is so simple – right? I want to be that person with the simple life – I used to think I was that person with the simple, awesome life. Awesome – yes; simple – not quite.

But what comes up must come down, they say. And while this might sound like a complaint, it assuredly is not. Life is definitely good.

One of my favorite things of late is getting together with my favorite newlyweds, Brook & Katherine. We cook, we eat, we drink, and we just plain hang out. Sometimes Katherine falls asleep, but it’s only because of the wine and not because we’re boring, right Kath??!! We play with their cuter-than-a-newborn-baby doggy, we laugh at the cats, and we get our groove on (or at least, we pretend to…) with the Kinect dancing game, whatever it’s called.

It’s good times – simple and awesome.

And it’s even awesome-er when bacon and goat cheese are involved. What’s not to adore? I’d spent the majority of last Saturday hanging with my pal, Caroline (which means that we hang out but she also puts me to work in her kitchen), so when it came time to get ready for the K+B extravaganza, I knew I only had it in me to bake a cake (yeah, that’s all – can you believe it??!), so I put the Hubs to work on the appetizer.

It’s not like he was slaving over the stove, people. And check out the recipe if you don’t believe me. Four ingredients – I don’t think I’ve ever posted something with four ingredients – maybe a drink??!! Four wonderful, scrumptious ingredients, all rolled up together, baked until crispy and oozy, and devoured.

 

These dates are holiday-ish, festive, easy, and entirely portable. If it’s not too late, take these to your holiday party, but be sure to snag a couple before you share. Remember – the holidays are all about giving, but also a little bit about getting, too!

 

Bacon-Wrapped Dates

chiknpastry recipe; makes 16

printable version

ingredients
4 oz goat cheese, room temperature
2 T almonds, roughly chopped
16 dates
8 slices of thick-cut bacon

instructions
preheat oven to 375 F.

combine goat cheese and chopped almonds in a small bowl and set aside.

slice dates on one side and remove pit. stuff each date with goat cheese / almond mixture and squeeze together (dates should be packed with cheese!).

slice bacon strips in half lengthwise and wrap each half around a date. secure with a toothpick or place seam-side down on a baking sheet. bake 20-30 minutes, until bacon is crispy (thicker bacon will take longer). let cool for a few minutes and devour!

Peaches & Rainbows

Over the last three weeks, I’ve made it a point to limit the purchasing of edible items to almost nothing, aside from what’s needed for simple, quick cooking and things that move easily. Also, I’m not buying items I already have in storage. That said, things like soy sauce and sriracha made the cut, but things like flour and butter didn’t.

Of course, all of my 10+ flours might very well be rancid by the time I get to them next weekend, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take in hopes of avoiding starting completely from scratch in the kitchen.

Cornmeal Blueberry Cookies

I think that’s why I forced nudged Chris to make a candy bar run earlier this week; I was craving something sweet some kinda fiercely, and even though I hadn’t eaten a Whatchamacallit in years, it seemed like the only appropriate solution. You see, I’m used to having immediate access to things like blenders, mixers, muffin tins, baking sheets, etc. This little temporary ‘kitchen’ has none of the above (I think I’ve already mentioned that about 10 times before, right?!). To that, add the fact that I was already living without my personal belongings for a month, and that equals exactly 2 months of this crap. What can I say; I caved, and I’m sayin’ it loud and proud. (That was a damn good Whatchamacallit.)

 

But let’s put things in perspective here; while these 2 months haven’t been peaches and rainbows per se, they haven’t been storm clouds and gremlins either. I mean for reals, we’ve had multiple bouts of amazing get-togethers, dinners, drinks, and the like as a result of this move. I didn’t even pay for most of them (lesson: if you want free drinks and dinners, move outta state ;)).

We even threw ourselves a going-away party a couple of months ago, where I decided to whip out a few treats, including these cookies I also started thinking about this week. Hard to believe it’s been that long since I baked cookies, or used my own cutting board, or had access to those dried blueberries that are waiting in storage, but it has.

Cornmeal Blueberry Cookies

When I find all of those items I’ve been sorely missing, a few of the first things I’m going to do include buying some butter along with a few other essential items, taking a nap on my long-lost couch, maybe unpacking a few boxes (the one with the flour and dried blueberries, for example), and then high-tailing it into the kitchen and making some cookies.

There will not be leftovers, either.

 

Cornmeal Blueberry Cookies
adapted from Good to the Grain; makes about 3 dozen

I am a huge lover of cookies of all shapes, flavors, and sizes, but non-traditional cookies hold a very special place in my heart, or belly. these aren’t your average cookies; they are sweet and chewy, but not overpowering on the dessert scale. in fact, you could probably eat a couple for breakfast without feeling too bad about it. dried blueberries are somewhat pricey (i get mine from Costco), but they are so perfect in this recipe. i’m sure you could use other dried fruits, but if they’re larger than blueberries (pea-sized), you’ll want to give ’em a rough chopping.

oh, and these cookies are definitely best eaten the day they’re prepared. they have a tendency to harden quickly, so either eat them the day of or store in an airtight container. i’m guessing you could halve the recipe if you don’t want this many, or even freeze pre-baked, rolled and coated dough, adding a couple of minutes to the baking time and baking straight from the freezer.

time commitment: about 1 hour, half of which is active and half of which involves smelling these things bake.

ingredients

  • 2 c corn flour
  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 c finely ground cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 t baking soda
  • 2 t cream of tartar
  • 2 t kosher salt
  • 8 oz (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 c brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 c milk
  • 1 c dried blueberries (see above)
  • 1/2 c sugar, for finishing

 

instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a Silpat, or spray with cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients (corn flour through salt) and whisk for a couple of minutes to break up any chunks (Boyce’s recipe says to sift these ingredients together, but I can’t seem to get behind sifting ingredients, although who knows, maybe it does really impact the recipe…).
  • Add the butter and the brown sugar to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or use a large bowl and a hand mixer). Turn the mixer to low speed and mix until the butter and sugar are combined, then increase the mixer speed to medium and cream for 2 minutes. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until each is combined. Add the flour mixture to the bowl and blend on low speed until the flour is barely combined, about 20 seconds. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the milk and the blueberries. Slowly mix until the dough is evenly combined.
  • Pour the finishing sugar into a bowl. Scoop mounds of dough, each about 3 tablespoons in size, form them into balls and set them on a plate. Dip each ball into the sugar, coating it lightly. Arrange the balls on the baking sheets, leaving about 3 inches between them. Chill any remaining dough until ready to use.
  • Bake the cookies for 20 to 22 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through. The cookies will puff up and crack at the tops and are ready to come out when the sugar crust is golden brown and the cracks are still a light yellow. They will appear soft, but will harden and cook more when removed from the oven.
  • Repeat with the remaining dough.

Will Work for Baklava

Earlier this year I left my first job out of grad school. My profession initially appealed to me as a result of its many subspecialties, and I loved knowing I could change from working in pediatric genetics to adult cancer genetics any time I chose, providing there was a job opening, of course. Leaving my previous position was a long and grueling process, and although I love my new job, (did I mention I work normal hours and still get my clinic notes finished?) I have to be honest – I think about those people every day and miss them immensely. Most of them.

You know what else I’ll miss? That honkin’ box that arrived in our suite every Christmas from Harry and David. Sure, the box had great pears and chocolate-covered blueberries, but it also had one of the sweetest of all sweets. Baklava. Had I not shared an office in a tiny pediatric clinic, I swear I would have squirreled away the entire lot. And maybe some of those blueberries too.

toasted hazelnuts

I won’t lie. When I saw a recipe for baklava in a recent Food & Wine magazine, I immediately took a little stroll down memory lane and thought of that lovely box. I thought of all the ways I adored baklava and its’ crunchy, rich, chewy and almost-too-sweet-for-even-a-sweet-tooth-like-me self. I could almost taste it and couldn’t wait until December. Until I realized that part of leaving that job included leaving baklava. That made me very sad.

Then I got a bit frightened. And by his point I was sweating and shaking just thinking about the stuff. I looked like Jason Patric in Rush. I was also a little frantic just thinking about making this delicacy, but I knew at this point there was no turning back. I’d already crossed the line and geez Louise that’s a line you can’t back-cross. Not when baklava is right around the corner. And so I set up my baklava-making station and to work I went.

It’s not that I’m terrified of phyllo dough. I’d used it a few times. In fact, one of Chris’ favorite dishes is a Morroccan pie made with a phyllo crust. It’s just that my memory of baklava was held in such high esteem and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to satisfy that pedestaled taste.

But by golly. Need I say more? I mean, just look at it.

Chocolate-Hazelnut Baklava
Adapted from Food & Wine, July 2009; makes 24 pieces

Printable version

As if baklava weren’t good enough the classical way, this recipe has chocolate in it. Eeep!! And rather than the traditional (just ask my buddy J Simps) pistachio filling, this uses hazelnuts. I’m willing to bet you could substitute any nutty combo although I’ve thought long and hard and just can’t think of a better choice. But maybe hazelnuts aren’t your bag.

ps: baklava freezes like a dream. Just wrap it up and stow it away. I took some out over Labor Day weekend and it was good as new.

ingredients
1 lb hazelnuts
12 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 2/3 cups sugar
2 T cinnamon, divided
1 lb phyllo dough, thawed and ready to use
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups honey

instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spread nuts on baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes, until skins are blistered; let cool for a few. Transfer to kitchen towel and rub off the skins, then transfer to food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Note: the de-skinning might take a while, so sit down for it 😉

2. Add chocolate, 2/3 c of sugar, and 1 1/2 T cinnamon to processor and pulse until finely chopped and of equal consistency.

3. Unwrap phyllo and cover with sheet of plastic wrap. Generously butter a 9×13 metal baking pan. Butter and stack 8 sheets of phyllo. Note: it’s ok if some break during this. You’ll use most of the sheets but if some are just horrendously broken, discard it. You have to move fast with the phyllo and keep it covered when you aren’t using it. Trim the edges of the phyllo so they don’t stick together (just a tad). Ease stack into the pan (there will be overlap). Sprinkle about 2 cups of filling over phyllo. Butter and stack 2 more sheets; fold them in half cross-wise and place over filling (should fit perfectly into pan). Sprinkle another 2 cups of filling. Butter and stack 2 more and repeat with folding and filling. Butter and stack 3 sheets and fold crosswise over filling. Fold in overhang from bottom layer and brush generously with butter. Cut into 12 squares, then cut each in half to make 24 triangles.

4. Bake baklava 25 minutes, then lower temp to 300 F and bake for 50 more. Will be golden.

5. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, bring water, honey, sugar and 1/2 T cinnamon to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat for ~10 minutes. Immediately ladle hot syrup over hot baklava (right when it comes out of the oven) and let stand until completely cool, at least 4 hours but preferably overnight. It does not need to be refrigerated.

BARBEQUE: GOODER THAN SNUFF

BARBEQUE

Have ya’ll ever been to North Kakalaka? Let’s just say, if you haven’t, and if you ever do, a little preparation for the lingo might benefit you or else you may find yourself ‘running around like a chicken with its’ head cut off’. I am Southern, after all; it’s only fittin’ that I use my manners and translate a few for you :). So here we go.

Hug your neck: this is how we talk about showing affection. “Aunt Faye, that fried chicken looks so good it makes me wanna hug your neck!”

Bless his/her heart: this is what you say in the same sentence before you say something that’s not very nice. “Bless his heart, that boy has a face only a mother could love!”

BARBEQUE

Fixin’ to: what you say when you’re about to do something. “I’m fixing to warm up some of this tasty leftover barbeque.”

Gooder than snuff: when something is really, really great. “This vinegar-based barbeque sauce you made is gooder than snuff.”

Fit to be tied: angry. “When Ralph dropped that pe-can pie on the floor, Luna was fit to be tied.”

Down yonder: further down the road. “The best barbeque in Duplin County is down yonder on Hwy 13.”

BARBEQUE

Barbeque: this is not what you non-Southerners use as a verb, which is actually ‘grilling’. Barbeque is a noun, and there are many different barbeque varieties in the South. “The only barbeque I care to eat is from Eastern North Carolina.”

Full as a tick: basically, when you have eaten so much you’re about to explode. “I ate so much barbeque and red velvet cake that I was full as a tick.”

Clearly, this here list is not all-inclusive. Do you know some more? While you’re thinkin’ about it, consider trying your hand at one of my favorite Southern dishes, eastern NC bbq. And don’t you dare consider using another kind of sauce – vinegar-based is the only way to go. Don’t ruffle my feathers, now!

BARBEQUE

Eastern NC-Style Slow Roasted Pulled Pork
Adapted from Cooking Light, December 2009; serves 16

if you’ve got barbeque joints in your backyard, you may not feel the need to make your own. but up here in the midwest, it’s a necessity. if you do use bone-in, allow extra time to let the pork tenderize even more. if you need less time, boneless works just as well. serve with Southern-style coleslaw – either on the side, on your samich, or both (like me).

printable version

ingredients
2 T dark brown sugar
1 T smoked paprika
1 T chili powder
1 t salt
2 t ground cumin
1 t freshly ground black pepper
1/2 t dry mustard
1/2 t ground chipotle chile pepper
1 (5-pound) boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), trimmed
2 c water, divided
1 t liquid smoke
1/2 c apple cider vinegar
1/3 c ketchup
vinegar-based Eastern NC bbq sauce (recipe below)

instructions
To prepare pork, combine first 8 ingredients in a small bowl. Rub sugar mixture evenly over pork. Let pork stand at room temperature 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 225°.

Place pork on the rack of a roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Pour 1 cup water in bottom of roasting pan. Place rack in pan. Bake at 225° for 1 hour.

Combine 1/2 cup vinegar and ketchup in a medium bowl; brush pork with ketchup mixture (do not remove from oven). Bake an additional 3 hours, basting every hour with ketchup mixture.

Pour remaining 1 cup water in bottom of roasting pan. Cover pork and pan tightly with foil. Bake an additional 3 3/4 hours or until a thermometer registers 190°. Remove from oven; let stand, covered, 45 minutes.

Vinegar-Based Eastern NC bbq Sauce
chiknpastry recipe; makes 2 cups

printable version (sauce only)

ingredients
1.5 c apple cider vinegar
1 c water
1 T tomato paste
4 T dark brown sugar
1 T crushed red pepper flakes
2 t smoked paprika
1 t chile powder

instructions
combine all ingredients in small saucepan and bring to boil. reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. add more red pepper flake, if desired.

All That You Need To Know Regarding Apple Watch as a Travel Companion

It’s exciting to visit different countries and see new things. When you travel internationally, the real challenge is deciding the type of electronics to carry. Although the gadgets you take are primarily intended for your trip, anyone who frequently travels knows that while traveling across borders, one thing that should not be forgotten is an Apple Watch. As such, you can purchase one of the best Apple watch bands from cxsbands.com.

 

How to Use Apple Watch as a Travel Companion

 

Your travel is made better by the Apple Watch! You don’t have to worry about juggling suitcases and dealing with other mobile phones. On the go, you can send texts, as well as get flight notifications. You can also avoid missing crucial information as you travel by using this Apple Watch. It not only evaluate your health status as you travel through airports, but it also counts your steps and keeps track of your travels.

 

You may also profit from the Watch when you’re in regions that accept tap and pay. You can also utilize your Watch when paying for items in various countries, despite the fact that tap-to-pay is uncommon in the United States. Using the Watch to pay is as safe as using a credit card.

Apple Watch as a Travel Companion

Apps that can assist you while traveling.

 

You may not be able to access the internet while traveling internationally. Apps for traveling, such as Astronomy and Solar, are always useful.

 

Which bands should you have?

 

Although certain brands have features making them ideal for specific types of trips, an all-purpose band can never be wrong. You might choose to travel with several bands, but an all-purpose choice can handle everything you need.

 

Apple’s Woven Nylon complement every outfit, whether you’re going to a formal party or in a professional meeting. You may choose between neutral colors such as blue or black, or you may go for less conventional things, depending on your preference.

 

Another thing to think about before purchasing Apple Watch travel accessories is that they may go missing in the rush and bustle of traveling. It would sting more if you lost an expensive band on your journey. It’s better to bring a brand that isn’t too pricey When traveling. As a result, if it goes missing, you can simply replace it instead.

 

Best Cases While traveling with Apple Watch

 

You’ll want to keep your Apple watch safe While you’re on the road. Aside from looks, you must choose a case that will shield your Watch While being readily transportable.

 

If you want to carry many bands, a multipurpose travel bag like the Twelve South’s Timeporter would be ideal. It can store additional bands and has a tabletop charging option for When on the road charging is necessary.

Apple Watch as a Travel Companion

Don’t forget to charge your Watch.

 

The battery life of the Apple Watch is lengthy, but you’ll need to charge it at Some point, particularly if your journey lasts longer than 24 hours. The magnetic charging feature of the Apple Watch is a distinguishing characteristic. You can’t easily lend a charger or a cable.

 

Remember that you may not always be able to charge your Apple Watch While traveling, so have a backup plan in place. Taking an external battery with you is a wonderful backup plan. There are Some high-capacity batteries with built-in Apple Watch charging capabilities. The majority of these batteries have strap-on features that allow you to charge your Apple Watch While traveling.

 

You can also get something to clean the Watch.

 

Take with you screen wipes When traveling Internationally with your Apple Watch. Some areas are dustier or hotter than others, which means that your Apple Watch will get sweaty and filthy While you travel. You’ll need something to clean your Apple Watch since it will be uncomfortable if it’s sweaty or dirty. Wipes for the screen are usually the best option because they not only work well on your phone display but also clean your Apple Watch and band more effectively.

 

What if the Watch is damaged While traveling?

 

If your Apple Watch is damaged, you may be tempted to sell it to Apple. While this isn’t a terrible idea, selling it to a reseller would provide you with a better profit margin. Depending on the type of Apple Watch and how badly damaged it is, you may make considerably more money.

 

In conclusion, traveling with an Apple Watch creates fantastic moments. Get yourself a beautiful Apple Watch and enjoy traveling.

Men wear bomber jackets to travel

Men’s flight and bomber jackets are very crucial when it comes to travel. It has a lot of significance in the life of every man. This jacket keeps you warm during the cold weather but also looks good and stylish at the same time. Wearing this jacket will help you become more fashionable and comfortable at the same time. These are some reasons why men should buy a cool bomber jacket for their trip.

 

The mens flight and bomber jacket has been ordinary among men since long ago. They have been using these jackets for different purposes like travelling, working, etc. But now people are wearing these jackets on other occasions as well too. With the growing popularity of this jacket, the number of manufacturers producing them is increasing day by day. And today, most men are buying these jackets from online stores only because they get the best deals and discounts.

 

Before you travel to your destination, you must have the proper clothing because there could be changes in temperature or climatic conditions. In order not to get ill, you need clothes that keep you warm during extreme temperatures. So firstly, you need to get yourself an extra piece of cloth to cover your body. Then you need to match it up with the right accessories such as gloves, scarf, hat, etc. Nowadays many people prefer to wear a casual jacket rather than a traditional suit.

 

Travelling with the pilot jacket makes your trip much more manageable, comfortable and stylish. You do not need to worry about anything when travelling in cold weather or windy conditions. The best thing is that these jackets are not expensive. So you won’t be breaking your bank account while buying one. There are many online shops which provide great discounts on these jackets.

 

If you wish to purchase one, you should search for a reputed store before making any final decision. Most of these sites offer you an accessible shipping facility, so you do not even need to pay extra money for its delivery.

 

If you are looking for a bomber jacket online, you must first decide whether you want something casual or formal. The casual Bomber Jacket is mainly used for leisure activities. So it won’t look bad when worn for such purposes. A formal bomber jacket is perfect for work purposes. So people who plan to stay away from the office or college should consider purchasing this type of jacket. Once decided, you need to check what fabric is being utilized for making it. Soft cotton is generally preferred for casual jackets, and heavy woollen fabrics are usually selected for formal ones.

 

For those who have no idea what kind of material should be used for their jacket, it is recommended to contact your local tailor shop. Their professionals know what suits your personality and style. They can suggest the colour, pattern, cut, size and style that you need.

Men wear bomber jackets to travel

The different varieties of men’s flight bomber jackets

 

Men’s flight bomber jackets come manufactured in different varieties, designs, and styles. The most important thing is that they all look great and give you warmth as well. Some of them have hoods which make them more suitable for travelling. Apart from these things, many other features are included in each model.

 

You need to choose a proper one that satisfies your needs and taste. The following are some of the best varieties of bomber jackets:

 

  1. Men’s flight bomber jackets with hood. These jackets are perfect for travelling because they keep you warmer, while they look stylish and classy at the same time. You can pair them up with a suit or jeans and any dress for the right look.

 

  1. Bomber jackets without hoods. The reason behind its popularity is that it gives you more room to move around and enjoy yourself, even if you’re wearing a formal outfit. But they don’t look quite as cool as a jacket with a hood.

 

The cost of the men’s flight and bomber jacket

 

The men’s flight and bomber jackets have an estimated $154, and the price can vary depending on the size, material, style, brand, colour, etc. If you want to get a nice variety, then you can shop online through different websites. There are many sites available where you can find the product at discounted rates.

Men wear bomber jackets to travel

Factors to consider when buying the men’s flight and bomber jacket.

 

Price

 

Several factors decide whether or not to purchase a specific item; however, the price is always one of the main ones. That being said, it would be wise to consider what you plan to use it for before choosing a particular design or style.

 

Size and fittings

 

Size of the jacket matters since it would determine your comfort level while using it. As such, it should match perfectly with the body parts. Also, make sure that the fit is comfortable enough and nothing falls off during movements. If possible, try the items out on a friend first so they can tell you how it feels and looks and see if it fits appropriately.

 

Material and durability

 

Depending on the material, you will be able to know if the jacket is durable enough. For instance, leather is soft and supple but is also very expensive. On the contrary, polyester is affordable but does not provide the needed support. It depends entirely on what you expect from the jacket and what budget you can afford.

 

Conclusion

 

Buying the right men’s flight and bomber can bring joy to both your hands and heart. With proper research and information gathering, the chances are that you will be able to find just what you are looking for, which suits your taste. You have to bear in mind the factors to consider before buying this item because, after all, it is an investment that will last for an extended period. The jacket can also be used in all weather conditions, thus making it possible to wear it throughout your travel time.

Born on a Bayou

Chicken & Sausage Jambalaya

It isn’t too terribly often (or ever) that Chris gets so excited about something in the kitchen that he whips out his iPhone, snaps a quick photo, and Facebooks it. But when he does, I know it’s going to be an extra-special meal.

These are the meals that can’t go long without a mention here, for fear that I’m leaving you out of something really awesome. I’d feel really bad if I did, you see.

My somewhat long commute has led me to develop a cooking tradition, of sorts. Weeknights are now reserved for meals that take less than 1 hour to make, from start to finish. I used to tackle arduous meals on any day, be it Friday with a nice glass of wine at my side, or Tuesday with silence in the house, other than the sounds of my knife tapping the board, piles of vegetables slain and piled high as mountains, and an oven heating up to 350.

Things are different now. Driving 2 hours each day is enough to make you ten times more tired when you get home, no matter how stressful or boring your actual day in the office was. I have to fit in exercise too, (who am I kidding; this is once-a-week endeavor at best right now) writing here, and last but certainly not least, finishing the last season of Castle on Netflix.

Chicken & Sausage Jambalaya

This leaves the weekends for the hefty meals, the labors of love, the ones your gramma used to make every day like it was her job. Probably because it was her job, at least it was in my family. This is one of those meals: two hours from start to finish, and every minute is well worth it. And one more thing: the cost of groceries is, too.

This here, my friends, is a gigantic pot of goodness that will feed your whole block, or building, or the two of you for at least a week. And that’s the beauty – all that time is a bargain, when you sit right down and do the calculations. Check it out: 2 hours of work + 10 servings of the most amazing jambalaya on the west coast = 12 minutes per serving. If you roll like I do, and choose to use this dish for another dinner and a couple of lunches, you’ve also cut some kitchen time outta the work week too, which some would consider a bonus.

Chicken & Sausage Jambalaya

Now let me tell you about this slice of heaven before you. For starters, there is so much meat in this recipe that you won’t be able to take a bite without it, even if you tried. It is so spicy, in a good way, that you want to pack your bags, hop on a plane, and fly straight to New Orleans to eat everything Creole in sight because you just can’t get enough. It’s more than plenty to feed a crowd, if you want to share, but the leftovers heat perfectly, and I can attest to that wholeheartedly, as evidenced by the bowl I just emptied 4 nights later.

And probably (probably) most importantly – it will make you the most wonderful mammal in your house for at least a couple of hours afterwards. That is, until you start nagging about the dishes…

Chicken & Sausage Jambalaya

Chicken & Sausage Jambalaya

Adapted from Bon Appetit, March 2011; serves at least 10

time commitment: 2 hours, half of which is active

printable version

ingredients

12 oz applewood-smoked bacon, diced
1 1/2 lbs linguiça (or other smoked, cooked sausage), halved lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick semi-circles
1 lb andouille sausages, quartered lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 lb smoked ham, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2 lbs onions, chopped (4 to 5 cups)
2 large celery stalks, chopped
1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 lb skinless boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch pieces
2 T paprika
1 T chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 T chili powder
1/2 t cayenne pepper
1 28-oz can fire-roasted diced tomaties
1 small can diced green chiles
2 1/2 c beef broth
3 c (19 to 20 ounces) Basmati rice, uncooked
8 green onions, chopped (about 2 cups)
salt and pepper
Chopped fresh Italian parsley

instructions

Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 350 F. Cook bacon in very large pot over medium-high heat until brown but not yet crisp, stirring often, 8 to 10 minutes. Add smoked sausage, andouille, and ham. Sauté until meats start to brown in spots, about 10 minutes. Add onions, celery, and bell peppers. Cook until vegetables begin to soften, stirring occasionally, 10 to 12 minutes. Mix in chicken. Cook until outside of chicken turns white, stirring often, 5 to 6 minutes. Mix in paprika, thyme, chili powder, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne. Cook 1 minute. Add diced tomatoes, chiles, and broth; stir to blend well. Add more cayenne, if desired. Mix in rice.

Bring jambalaya to boil. Cover pot. Place in oven and bake until rice is tender and liquids are absorbed, 45 minutes. Uncover pot. Mix chopped green onions into jambalaya and season with salt and pepper to taste; sprinkle jambalaya with chopped parsley and serve.

Waiting is Overrated

tomatoes

I have had a huge hankering for tomatoes lately. Huge. They’ve slowly been inching their way into our markets – every weekend I dash down the street (okay okay, I stroll; I couldn’t dash if I tried these days) to see if there’s a burgeoning table of wayward-shaped heirlooms in need of a handful of my cash-money. Instead, I see a corner of lonely tomatoes, the same corner that once housed a crate of greens, or maybe some stray box of strawberries.

Damnit, I want that big table of tomatoes already. I have a list of things I want to do with them, and I am growing impatient. Can you tell?

tomatoes

I want to make another panzanella salad, because I haven’t made one since I made this one two years ago! But this time, I want to load it with ‘maters. And sourdough bread, of course.

I want to can plenty of tomato sauce, and make barbeque sauce, and plenty of sriracha ketchup. I want to make buttermilk dressing and slather it all over sliced heirloom tomatoes. And myself. That’s not weird, is it?

tomatoes

I want to make my own harissa. Now let me be clear – the store-bought harissa is totally legit, but I’m sort of a fan of making condiments. Sort of.

I also wouldn’t mind some gazpacho right about now. That sounds like something I could definitely get behind. Or in front of. Or in my mouth. Whatevs.

tomatoes

I wanted to wait to stuff some ‘maters, like my old bosslady did a few months ago, but I really just couldn’t wait any longer. Plus, I’ve been cooking through Heidi Swanson’s new book like it’s goin’ outta style, and I decided that the Whole Foods tomatoes would just have to do because the earmark on the page was near ’bout worn off.

I also couldn’t help myself from throwing a slice of cheese on top, because when has mozzarella cheese and a tomato ever been a bad thing?

Sometimes waiting is so overrated, isn’t it?

tomatoes

Couscous Stuffed Tomatoes

Adapted from Super Natural Every Day, serves 4

time commitment: 1 hour, 15 minutes (15 minutes active time)

this is a relatively versatile recipe. except! don’t use millet in your tomatoes, as i accidentally did the first time i tried this recipe. you could use a grain of similar texture, more than likely. quinoa maybe? a pesto filling would work well in place of harissa and any other spices/seasonings to put a different twist on it sound fabulous too. if you want a meat-filled tomato, check out this ‘winning recipe‘.

printable version

ingredients

4 large, ripe, red tomatoes
1/3 c plain yogurt
2 T store-bought harissa (tomato-based)
1/4 c fresh basil, chopped into thin strips (chiffonade)
1 shallot, minced
salt and pepper
1/2 c couscous, uncooked
4 oz mozzarella cheese, cut into 4 slices
olive oil, for drizzling

instructions

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Cut the top 10% off of each tomato. Working over a large bowl (and using a grapefruit spoon if you have one, but if not a regular spoon works too), scoop the flesh out of each tomato, being careful not to puncture the sides. Let the pulp and juice fall into the bowl. Chop up any large pieces. Arrange shells of tomatoes in a small, glass baking dish.

In the same bowl, combine 1/2 c of the tomato pulp/juice (discard the rest, which shouldn’t be too much) with yogurt, harissa, basil (leave a little to garnish), shallots, and salt/pepper to taste. Add couscous and stir to combine. Stuff filling into each tomato shell, filling as much as possible.

Bake, uncovered, for 50 minutes. Add mozzarella strips to the top of each tomato and bake another 5-7 minutes, until melted and gooey. Remove from oven, drizzle with a little olive oil and pepper, and garnish with remaining basil.

Top of My List

burger

July absolutely has to be one of my very favorite months. I’m also a big fan of November (because of Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday). September and October aren’t too bad, either. And while I’m at it, I may as well throw in August, which means we are clearly at the very beginning of all of my favorite times of the year. Let the games begin.

For now though, I’m going to keep it together and just talk about July.

burger

When I think about July, a few things come to mind. First and foremost is Summer, and that’s probably because I’ve lived in Chicago for so long. It doesn’t always warm up in May and June there, although from what I’ve heard, this year has been a little toasty. Here in San Francisco, it seems to always be sunny in at least one part of the city, although it’s certainly not always warm, so to speak. That said, we haven’t grilled out nearly as much as we normally would, but I think the warm weather is right around the corner, and for that I’m thankful.

I also think about fruit – cherries, blueberries, watermelon, and all those berries with seeds that sorta get on my nerves. Peaches. Which reminds me – I need to bust out a cobbler or something, like yesterday. And some ice cream, but I’ve got an ice cream recipe in queue that I’m guessing is gonna knock my socks off (yes, I still sleep in socks, even in July).

burger

This year, July means biking through Golden Gate Park or back over to the bridge, and hopefully a road trip over to Tomales Bay for oysters, and maybe some more Stairway Walks (more on those later) and neighborhood hang-outs. Maybe even another baseball game? or is that being too optimistic? We are halfway through this month, I’m aware.

Clearly, many things have changed over this past year, location-wise most definitely, but some things haven’t; one of those is my adoration for this month, and really, all months, but I’m trying to be specific here. July truly is at the top of my list.

burger

And last but certainly not least, July = burger time. Check this out: we’ve had burgers in July for three years in a row, and that’s sayin’ somethin’. Last year, I waxed poetic about getting a meat grinder attachment, and this year I finally did it. Of course, it sat in storage for a while, and even though I’ve had the thing for months, I have used it now for the first time. But like I said last year, the meat grinder is some kinda awesome, and I finally proved it to myself that I needed to get one (ok, use one) a long time ago.

With said ground meat, I churned out a relatively quick and easy burger recipe, sans grill: griddled smash burgers. It’s not a bad idea, really. Heat up your griddle (or pan, if you’re not into pancakes enough to have a griddle specifically for flapjacks), ball up some ground meat, and smash ‘em onto the surface, letting the juices sizzle away, smoking up your house almost enough to flip the smoke alarm. Smoosh some onions into them, and finish them off with cheddar cheese and pickles; simple and quick is key here.

Put them on a plate with some baked ‘french fries’, and let the rays of the sun shine on ‘em like a pot o’ gold at the end of a rainbow. Two seconds later, eat them as quickly as possible – we’ve got a lot left to do now, and half of July’s already passed us by.

burger

Cheddar & Onion Smashed Burgers

Adapted from Food & Wine, June 2011; serves 4

time commitment: 30 minutes

printable version

ingredients

16 thin bread-and-butter pickle slices, patted dry
4 burger buns, toasted
1 1/4 lb ground beef chuck (30 percent fat)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 small onions, sliced paper thin
4 oz sharp cheddar cheese, sliced
ketchup, and other fixin’s that you choose

instructions

If you’re into this sorta thing, grind your own meat, which takes about 5 minutes if you have a good grinder.

Heat a griddle until very hot. If you don’t have a griddle, you can probably use a frying pan on high heat, but I used a griddle that is normally used for pancakes 😉 . Layer the pickle slices on the bottom buns.

Without overworking the meat, loosely form it into 4 balls and place them on the griddle. Cook the meatballs over moderately high heat for 30 seconds. Using a sturdy large spatula, flatten each ball into a 5-inch round patty. Season the patties with salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes, until well seared. Press a handful of sliced onions onto each patty. Using the spatula, carefully flip each burger so the onions are on the bottom. Top with the cheese and cook for 2 minutes. Cover with a roasting pan and cook just until the cheese is melted, 1 minute more. Transfer the burgers with the onions to the buns. Top with the ketchup, any other fixin’s, buns and serve.