Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Super Spring Salad & A Spring Picnic Giveaway

Spring picnic season is finally upon us (well most of the country anyway) and we couldn't be more excited. Most weekends we pack a picnic basket and head to our local park to meet family or friends and let the kids play until dusk. Ella comes home dirty and exhausted and always sleeps like a champ post picnic. 

We also do some quick weeknight picnics in our front yard. Even if we just eat leftovers a picnic always rids of us any crankiness (this is especially good for Monday nights). A spring picnic is also a lovely casual way to entertain with grown up friends too. I find myself having girlfriends over for wine and cheese on the lawn more often, because its way cheaper than going out and I don't feel like a weirdo for frequently laughing too loud.  This Super Spring Salad is a perfect dish for a grown-up picnic - it can be served warm, cold, or even room temperature and it one takes one pot and a jar to prep! 

Lauren over at Love Lola blog asked if I'd like to contribute to her Spring Picnic menu (which includes some really lovely other bloggers and an awesome Picnic Basket giveaway!) and, of course I said yes, because I clearly love a picnic. Read all about the rest of the Spring Picnic menu, visit the other contributors, and enter the rafflecopter giveaway below! 

Super Spring Salad 
Makes 4 to 6 side servings

8 ounces green beans, trimmed and halved
1 pound asparagus, white woody ends trimmed and halved
8 ounces shelled sweet peas
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup olive oil
4 ounces radishes, sliced
1/4 cup chopped pistachio

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium high heat. Fill a large bowl with ice and water and have standing by. Liberally salt the boiling water and blanch the vegetables. Add the green beans first and cook for 1 minutes, add the asparagus and cook for 1 minute, add the peas and cook for 1 minute. Quick drain the veggies and immediately move to the ice-water bath to chill.

Make the dressing by combining the dijon, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper in a lidded jar. Shake vigorously and then add the olive oil, shake, taste and adjust the seasoning. You may want to add a teaspoon of sugar or honey - if you prefer a sweeter dressing.

Remove the veggies from the ice bath and move to a serving bowl. Add the radishes, pistachios, and dressing - and serve. Or chill the salad for 1 hour before serving. This salad can also be assembled the day before.

Appetizer: Avocado and Feta Salsa with Homemade Tortilla Chips  - Emily at Sweet to the Soul
Beverage: Sparkling Cherry Limeade - Mary Beth at Annapolis & Co     
Side Salad: Super Spring Salad - Meghan at Stir and Scribble
Sandwich: Grilled Vegetable Sandwich - Lauren at Love Lola  
Dessert: Lemon Bar - Amanda at Amanda K by the Bay

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

just a tip | baked farro

Just dropping in for a quick farro cooking lesson this week. I've mentioned in our last real family food post that I'm trying to swap some go-to carbs (like white rice and pasta) for more whole grains. Farro is a really great example of an often overlooked grain that is packed with flavor and nutrients. 

Farro is a wheat grain of ancient Mediterranean origin that is still quite popular in Italy. Farro actually consists of three different grain farro medio begin the most common in the US. Look for pearled or semi-pearled farro, which has had some of its tough outer layer removed to make it cook faster. Its high in fiber, zinc and vitamin B! 

Until recently I had tried the traditional (i.e. I read it on the bag) cooking directions of boiling the farro in salted water I found that it either took forever or I ended up with mushy farro! Recently I tried baking it - which is both faster than boiling AND produces perfect fluffy farro every time.

Baked Faro
1 ½ cups faro
1 tablespoon unsalted butter or olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt

3 cups boiling water*

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. 

Combine the faro, butter, and salt in a 2-quart glass-baking dish. Add the boiling water, cover (with the dishs lid or aluminum foil) and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and rest covered for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff the faro with a fork.

* I typically bring the 3 cups of water to a boiling in the microwave - use a microwave safe measuring cup and try 3 minutes on high heat. Use caution (and an oven mitt) when removing from the microwave! 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Grit Tots

Hey, look! I'm back with a recipe AND a brand new look. Thank you for all your kind words on last week's 24 hour post. It was the weirdest post to publish (yup, even weirder than announcing pregnancy two years ago). For the time being, I'm going back to posting two times a week so I can bring you other cool projects without losing my mind. 

But let's talk about this new look: My dear friend Lindsay of Gather and Co. has been working tireless on my logo and other brand elements. I swore I was the worst client ever (I switched color themes as we neared the end the project) but Lindsay was incredibly patient, walked me through all the things I didn't know, and assured me I was not the worst client ever. If you're looking for branding for your blog or business, for wedding invites, stationary suite - I highly recommend Gather and Co.

I still have some technical tweaking to do behind the scenes, but I could not wait to share the new look of Stir & Scribble! I also finally put together a legit portfolio site for my work at MeghanSplawn.com. An updated recipe database is also underway! But you just really want to know about these Grit Tots huh? 

I have been testing a lot of grit making recipe lately. Basically I'm lazy and I'm trying to find a way to make perfect creamy grits without standing over the stove. I've tried a baked version and a slow-cooker version and Iamthisclose to cracking the code (and I promise to share when I do). All this to say I've had a lot of leftover grits in the house. A good problem to have when you have this trick in your back pocket. These Grit Tots are as simple as cutting up some grits (I used a small round cutter, but I also tested them as simple square) and I'm 97% sure you can do the same with cooked or ready made polenta too! 

Grit Tots 
makes about 36 dozen tots, approximately 4 servings 

2 cups leftover grits - spread into a pan and refrigerated overnight 
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided 
kosher salt 

Set an oven rack about 6 inches under your broiler. Heat the broiler to high.

Cut the grits into 1 inch square or punch out rounds with a 1/2 inch round cutter. Coat a baking sheet with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Spread the cut grits into a single layer on the sheet pan. Drizzle on the remaining olive oil and gently toss to coat. 

Broil the Grit Tots for 1 to 2 minutes on each side until golden, about 8 minutes total. If the tots seem to be sticking use a thin flat spatula to flip them. Sprinkle with additional salt and cool slightly before serving.