Sunday, August 31, 2014

Honey Balsamic Figs with Brie Appetizer

Guys! I am so obsessed with figs this summer! Why have I never bought fresh figs before?! Yum.
They go so well with a cheese plate, and this simple and delicious appetizer falls right in line.

Seriously, this is so easy. Four ingredients and a couple minutes under the broiler (toaster oven broiler, ideally, so as not to heat up the whole house in the summer), and you are on your way to snacking and entertaining heaven!


Several fresh figs
Wedge of Brie cheese
Balsamic Glaze (From Trader Joe's in the salad dressing aisle)** 

Slice off the top stem, and the very bottom end of the figs. Cut in half, from top to bottom, and then cut halves in half again, if the figs are large.

Slice brie into bite size pieces.  I like to remove the white rind (always!) - either way is fine.

OK, get ready. This is the hard part! ;)
Place figs on small baking sheet. top each fig half with a slice of brie. (did you follow that?!)
Broil until cheese is warm and melty, but not a melted, disastrous mess.

Remove from oven, and drizzle with honey and balsamic glaze.

Ta da! Impressive, yummy appetizer or snack. Done in like 5 minutes!

**You can use balsamic vinegar for a less sweet flavor, or if you don't have the glaze. I just like the thickness of the glaze, because it looks prettier, too, drizzled on top. You can make your own glaze by reducing balsamic vinegar and apple juice in a small saucepan, as well.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hulling Strawberries - the easy way!

Ever seen this trick on Pinterest before?

I FINALLY remembered to try it. Oh man. It's a good one! And it's infomercial tagline totally lives up to its claim.
"Are you tired of cutting off the top third of your strawberries just to remove the stem?!"
...Why yes, I am.
"Next time, just use a drinking straw! It pushes the core and green stem up and out, leaving the rest of the whole fruit in tact!"
...Yep. Accurate.
Just keep a few plastic drinking straws around in your knife/kitchen tool drawer and never waste part of a strawberry again!

It does take a touch of finesse and elbow grease to aim exactly for the bottom middle of the berry, and then push to detatch the stem from the berry top.
But, it is super easy, and doesn't take any longer than carefully cutting off the stem with a knife.
Total win!
Try it!!

Especially with perfect farmer's market strawberries! Yum.

A perfect strawberry! No waste! Definitely a good trick to keep around.

Linked up With:

Monday, August 25, 2014

Stone Fruit Caprese with Avocado

I love the idea and flavors of a caprese salad, but I have never liked tomatoes. So sad, I know.
BUT! I love making it with cucumbers, or in this case, stone fruit, like some amazing, juicy, pretty farmer's market yellow plums and pluots!
Plus, I add avocado and balsamic for good measure.

Trader Joe's finally suckered me in to buying the whole basil plant today. They always look so pretty out front, but today they were on sale for $2, and the packet of basil I was going to buy inside in the produce aisle was $2 or more anyway! So I went for it. Here's to hoping I can keep it alive.

For the caprese salad:

Slice a plum (or peach!), some fresh mozzarella cheese, and half of an avocado.
Layer all three on a platter, layering in basil leaves as you go.
Sprinkle with a pinch sea salt and drizzle with either balsamic vinegar or balsamic glaze.

Yum. The perfect summer meal!
So refreshing and bright.
I am savoring the last few weeks of summer before I dive face first into apple and pumpkin spice everything in the fall!

Apple Cobbler Cheesecake with Snickerdoodle Cookie Crust
Maple Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie
Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes! (with vegan option!)

Linked up With:
A Pinch of Joy
Lemon Tree Dwelling - Saturday Night Fever

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Palm Springs!

I love me some Palm Springs!
Such a fun, local getaway for a weekend trip!

A couple weeks ago some girlfriends and I headed out to the desert to celebrate our good friend Rebecca and throw her a proper Bachelorette Party!

We were ready for some fun in the sun!

...what we didn't anticipate was...this.

A serious storm on the drive there.  Like, a, going 30mph on the freeway, storm. Yikes.
Not quite the 120 degree pool days we were expecting.

But, it did clear up long enough to get in some pool time, and it actually was nice that it wasn't so hot.

We stayed at the Riviera Hotel this time, and it was great!

I was obsessed with this real grass wall! Sooo cool!

We finished off the night dancing at The Hard Rock that just opened out there.

Such a fun weekend with my friends!!

Check out my Palm Springs posts from last year below:

Palm Springs 1

Palm Springs 2

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Laila's Charming Pieces Contest - an Etsy shop you are going to want to follow!

When I attended the Elevate Blog Conference earlier this year, I met so many amazing, talented, sweet girls!
Tara over at Laila's Charming Pieces was one of them! Such a sweetheart, and she makes amazing crochet accessories for sale on Etsy.

Tara is currently hosting a really fun contest over on her blog this week!  
If you purchase her adorable, trendy Crochet boho tie back headband with wooden beads and Guinea feathers from this Etsy link here, and then post a photo of you wearing it on Instagram, you will be entered to win!

Details below:

To enter (you must have purchased this piece) post a picture of you styled in this piece and upload it to Instagram with the hashtag #styledcontest. If you don't have an Instagram account you can email me taraphilipp(at)yahoo(dot)com with your photos. The contest will be held from August 1st - August 31st, you may post a new photo once a day(Whether you wear a different outfit with the pieces or style it in a different way).  From August 1st - August 15 shipping will be free for all US orders as a gift for purchasing and entering the contest. Once the contest is over (August 31) I will go through all the photos a pick a winner. The winner will receive a scarf of your choice valued at $30.00, good luck!

Check out her Full Post here and get to styling!

You know you want to frolick in the park for a little photoshoot! ...No? just me? ;)

 Etsy Shop: Laila's Charming Pieces
Blog: Laila's Charming Pieces
Tara's Instagram

I hope you purchase this piece and enter her contest!  She has so many other great items on her Etsy site, as well! 

Monday, August 11, 2014

OC Fair 2014!

My sister and I have an annual tradition of going to the OC Fair, riding Tilt-A-Whirl, eating our weight in fried foods, winning some tiny-ass stuffed animal prizes, and just having a grand ol' time!

After quite the indecisive parking disaster, we finally made it in and headed straight for the (ok, for the bathroom first!, then for the) Australian Battered Potatoes with cheese and ranch!
If you've never had these before, you must make them a fair staple! They are amazing! 

The Cheesy Bacon Bombs, caught my eye next, and were the greatest decision ever! Basically croissant biscuit balls stuffed with cheese and bacon. Ain't nothin' wrong with that!! They were, like, actually legit good. Like, appetizer at a party good. I might have to make them someday! I actually Googled them, and apparently they are a real thing. Outside of the fair world.

We found the Deep Fried Doritos I wanted to try this year, but, honestly, they looked kind of lame.  They looked just like a plain Dorito chip.  Barely any batter or anything...looked dry and boring. So we passed.

Then, we walked around a bit through all the infomercial booths to get our appetite back, after stuffing our faces with "dinner".

We always have to get our photo booth on!

This yellow background was everything this year! Changin' it up from our usual black and white photos.

We decided on a little roller coaster in place of our usual Tilt-a-Whirl ride, because, let's be serious, we are getting old, and there is always a huge risk of an instant migraine and/or nausea from fair rides these days.  Boo.  

Games were next, which are all too expensive lately! But worth it! So worth it.
Even for these sad, sad, tiny prizes.  Didn't the boobie prizes used to be a little better?!
Sigh.  Womp Womp...

Next up was dessert!!
Obviously, I couldn't decide between a few last fried options, so we got two to share!
We chose the deep fried cheesecake, and deep fried slice of red velvet cake!
OMG you guys.  a whole, huge slice of cake. With frosting and all. Straight up battered and fried.  It was amaaaazing!!!   So was the cheesecake, as it got all melty and delish.  Oh man.  These were a great decision. No matter how full we may have been.

A quick stop to see the leetle goats, and other animals, and we were on our way!
They actually had the Budweiser Clydesdale horses there, and even the Dalmatian dog from the commercial! Gah! So cute! Except it's always sad how small the cages are :(  Ugh.  

They also had oxen and camels which was really cool. And those dang Alpacas are so cute!

Ah! I love this tradition. I look forward to the fair every year! So much fun!

Love you, Seester!!!

Did you get to go to the fair this year?
What was your favorite food??