Super Easy Strawberries & Sherry Vinegar

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I’m writing this on the morning of my 31st birthday and it feels CRAZY but, not for the obvious reasons–wrinkles where there were none before, my new found obsession with moisturizing creams, those persistent gray hairs–but, because I barely registered my 30th birthday. I was deep into pregnancy and house hunting. I had curly fries for dinner from Jack in the Box. To be fair, there was a lot happening. This year seems to be barreling by at warp speed, too. Where do these days go?! They just kind of crept up, leapfrogging over one another. It’s good, though. These super speedy days remind me to keep my eyes wide open and that sometimes simple is the order of the day. It means more time for rosé on the patio, some good conversation, and extra moments with my dudes.

This recipe for Strawberries with Sherry Vinegar, Graham Crumbs, and Brown Sugar Whipped Cream answers that call for easy-living. The elements are super simple, but still special: ripe strawberries, lush sherry vinegar, deep brown sugar, crunchy grahams, velvety whipped cream, and buttery…well, butter. I pair sherry vinegar with the berries instead of the classic balsamic because I’m having a moment with sherry vinegar and I don’t like the muddy color that happens when using balsamic. I’m also having a moment with dark brown sugar. It’s just so deep and delicious with all those dark, caramelly, molasses notes. It makes the whipped cream a little extra special and adds a pleasing sandiness to the graham crumbs. Speaking of the grahams, it’s basically the things you’d use to make a graham cracker crust–just not pressed into a pan. It’s my go-to, dead-easy, dessert these warmer months. I’ve already made it several times with good reception, plus it makes me feel like that effortless entertainer I’ve always wanted to be, instead of a frazzled weirdo. #fakeittillyoumakeit

Strawberry with Sherry Vinegar, Graham Crumbs, and Brown Sugar Whip

I also made my first, ever, GIF! I kind of feel like a dinosaur because the tutorial I watched was basically made by an infant and I had to watch it several more times than I’d like to admit. But, here it is. I did it. It’s just a little animation of the nit-picky adjustments I made trying to style one of the shots. I mean it’s no sexy syrup-pour-shot or oozing-yolk, but maybe I’ll get there? I’m 31, I made my first GIF, and am figuring out this mom thing (or at least trying). I’m still learning things and that’s GOOD.

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Strawberries with Sherry Vinegar, Graham Crumbs, and Brown Sugar Whipped Cream

Serves 4-6

Everything in this recipe can be made in advance–making it that much easier to pull together. I wouldn’t whip the cream in advance, but you can combine the cream and brown sugar in a jar and whip just before serving.

for the berries:

1 lb. ripe, fresh strawberries stemmed and hulled

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

3 tablespoons (more or less) dark brown sugar

for the graham crumbs:

1 sleeve graham crackers (about 9 crackers)

1 tablespoon melted, unsalted butter

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

pinch of salt

for the whipped cream:

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1-2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

Slice the strawberries and toss them in a bowl with the sherry vinegar and brown sugar, to coat. Set aside.

Crush the graham crackers into fine crumbs (I like to use a mini food processor for this, but a bag and rolling pin will work in a pinch). Place the crumbs in a bowl and stir in the melted butter, brown sugar, and salt, until well combined.

Using electric beaters or an immersion blender (or your guns and a whisk) beat the cream until it begins to thicken. Add the brown sugar and continue to beat until you get a soft peak.

Spoon the berries into bowls, top with the whipped cream, and a generous sprinkle of graham crumbs. You will probably have extra crumbs, they store well in a jar with a tight lid for several days. Use them for topping yogurt, sundaes, or more strawberries and cream! [/recipe]

 

Easy Spicy Peanut Sauce

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Today I went somewhere I dread going on par with the DMV…the Apple Store. Specifically the Genius Bar, since my computer has been having a major issue with staying on when I’m using it. Rude. I’ve managed to avoid this trip for moths, but it was inevitable and I finally decided to deal with it. It was just shutting off at all kinds of random times and it turns out (as Sean predicted) the video card is failing. So, it’s with the good people of Apple, getting repaired and I wont see it again for a week. I have feelings about it being away, but it’s probably good for us. The heart grows fonder and all that stuff. I realize I may be being a bit dramatic, but I hate this stuff.

I know this isn’t really a problem (evidenced by the fact that I’m still able to type this up thanks to an iPad) so, I’ll stop talking about it and talk about something far more interesting. Something super delicious on all sorts of things and so easy to stir up. I’ll talk about this peanut sauce. It’s great with summer rolls, like the ones pictured in my Easy Vietnamese Pickles recipe. It’s also great with carrot or celery or cucumber sticks and with simple grilled chicken. I also think it would be great stirred into pasta and garnished with scallion and chopped peanuts for a cold noodle salad. The best part about this sauce, besides it being so flavorful, is that it comes together with ingredients you may already have in the pantry and refrigerator: zippy lime, salty fish sauce, nutty peanut butter, spicy sriracha, and sweet maple. A little water takes this sauce from a thick paste to a silky sauce, so don’t be worried if it looks like a strange consistency at first. It’s so good! So seriosuly, make it, dip it, mop it, pour it down your gullet (what? why? sorry). Whatever you’re into.

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Easy Spicy Peanut Sauce

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

I have used both natural peanut butter and commercial peanut butter for this recipe with great results.

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

juice and zest of 1 lime

1 clove minced garlic

1 tablespoon sriracha

2 teaspoons fish sauce

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1/4 to 1/2 cup water

In a bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients, except the water. Whisk in enough water to thin to a consistency you like. I use closer to 1/2 cup of water. [/recipe]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baked Coffee, Coconut, and Cream Cheese Donuts

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Guys, Happy National Donut/Doughnut Day! I’m sneaking in an extra post this week to celebrate because, donuts…obvs.

I made us Coffee, Coconut, & Cream Cheese Donuts! I realize that’s a mouthful–figuratively and literally, but they’re really so good. Last weekend when I picked up a mega-spread of donuts for Megan and I to try, I chose a coffee, coconut cheesecake number at the last minute and I am so glad I did! I can’t believe I almost just glazed on over it and let it sit there in the case waiting for someone else to eat it. It inspired me to make them at home…so I could have another. I mean, there are a lot of things happening in this donut, but they somehow don’t compete at all. The springy donut cake is flavored with just enough espresso to make it taste like coffee without any bitterness, there’s just a little more espresso in the frosting which compliments the smooth tang of the cream cheese so well, and the toasty coconut gives it a buttery, nutty aspect that brings everything together. It’s like coffee AND donuts in one bite…plus, cream cheese frosting.

These aren’t true-blue, fried-and-delicious donuts. I have a hard time making them at home because of two things: patience and vats of hot oil. Baked donuts, while not exactly the same thing as their fried brethren, are easy and still knock out that sweet tooth. Plus, they’re quick. If you have your shit together, you could have these in less than 30 minutes. #donutemoji

 

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Coffee, Coconut, & Cream Cheese Donuts

About 1 dozen baked donuts, or 6 baked donuts and 18 (ish) minis.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

a few gratings of fresh nutmeg

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 tablespoon instant espresso powder

1 egg

2/3 cup canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup brown sugar

for the icing:

4 ounces softened cream cheese

1 teaspoon instant espresso powder

1-2 teaspoons milk

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

toasted coconut for topping

Preheat oven to 350ºF and spray a donut pan with cooking spray.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. In another bowl whisk together the buttermilk, espresso powder, egg, oil, vanilla, and sugar. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture and fold to combine. Either spoon or pipe the batter into the donut pan, filling nearly to the top of each well, and bake the donuts in the center of the oven for 8-10 minutes or until the tops of the donuts have risen, are dry, and spring back to the touch. Remove from the oven and cool about 5 minutes before turning out onto a rack. Repeat with the remaining batter.

While the donuts bake and cool, make the icing by stirring together all of the ingredients until well combined. If the icing seems too loose, add more confectioner’s sugar a few tablespoons at a time. If it is too stiff, add a bit more milk. Ice the donuts once they are cooled and top with coconut.

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