I was browsing social media earlier today, and several people’s posts informed me that today is the last day of summer. In my mind, summer ended when the pools closed after Labor Day. But since today is the official last day of the best season of the year, I thought I would squeeze in one final summer recipe. I call these Carrot and Zucchini Muffins seasonal for summer because zucchini peaks during the summer months. Of course, zucchini can be found year-round, so go ahead and bake your heart out with these muffins in the middle of winter too. Truth be told, I made these muffins earlier in the summer and never got around to posting them. I am so last minute and behind these days, so nothing like having the last day of the season to light a fire under my arse.
Anywho, the reason these muffins are so awesome and should be eaten all year is because, hello, vegetables in your baked goods! I make these for my son all the time and love knowing I’m pulling a fast one on him and sneaking in some extra veggies in his diet. Plus, these muffins are gluten-free, dairy-free, and refined-sugar free so you can feel really good about enjoying one of these for breakfast with your morning coffee.
Here’s to the last day of summer and the beginning of fall!
Summer feels like it’s quickly slipping away, and I’m just not ready to say goodbye. It has been several weeks since I’ve blogged because July and August got super busy! I spent most of my down time working on our kitchen renovation. Almost everything has been selected and ordered, and construction should begin toward the end of September. I’m in shock that its actually happening! Beside working on the kitchen, my son started school and turned two, and my husband and I took a 5 year wedding anniversary trip to Seattle. I had always wanted to visit Seattle, but I had no idea that our experiences were going to exceed all expectations. Everything was so great, so I must share our trip details with you!
We arrived in Seattle early in the morning, checked into our hotel, and walked straight to the iconic Pike’s Place Market. The market was already crowded with people trying to get a look at the famous fishmongers throwing fish and packaging orders.
My husband spotted Elleno’s Real Greek Yogurt at the market, and I was so excited because it had been on my list. This discovery became an every day stop on our trip. Elleno’s takes the creamiest Greek yogurt and adds some of those most delicious toppings. It was unlike any yogurt we’d ever tasted, and we just couldn’t get enough. Our favorites were the Marion Berry Pie and the Museli.
After walking around the market for a while, we took a nice walk to explore the Pioneer Square neighborhood. We had lunch at The London Plane, which was a cool space with a flower market and cases to take food to go. We shared a beautiful curry avocado toast and a salad sampler.
Our first night’s dinner was at The Walrus and the Carpenter, an oyster restaurant in Ballard that was on many a Seattle restaurant lists. The wait time and the food lived up the hype. Even after an hour wait, we only scored seats at the bar. Our perch proved to be the perfect spot to experience the restaurant, as we had front row seats to watch oyster and small plate food prep. The highlights were the oysters, the halibut carpaccio with dried lime and hazelnut oil, and Billy’s tomato’s (not pictured).
On day two, we hopped the commuter ferry to Bainbridge Island, which was a quick 35 minute boat ride. When we arrived in Bainbridge, we first stopped at Blackbird Bakery for lattes and a blackberry lemon scone. We spent the morning walking through the little shops in the town of Winslow. It was such a cute area and I’m so glad we went out there!
When we got back to Seattle, we stopped for a quick lunch at Homegrown, a local chain of sandwich shops. The egg, cheese, avocado, and hot sauce sandwich on soft but toasted multigrain bread was so simple, yet so good!
After lunch, we headed to the Space Needle and Chihuly Garden & Glass exhibit. I felt it was imperative that we experience the most “Seattle” tourist attraction there is! The ride to the top of the Space Needle was quick and the views were incredible. Even more impressive was the Chihuly Glass exhibit, which showcases the most beautiful glasswork I’ve ever seen!
As if we hadn’t already done enough this day, I dragged my husband to the Fremont neighborhood to tour the Theo Chocolate Factory! I only learned about Theo Chocolate a few months ago from my cousin, but once I tasted it, I was hooked. Naturally, when I found out we could tour their factory in Seattle, I insisted we had to go. I love that Theo Chocolate was the first organic fair trade chocolate in the US! The tour was interesting and tasty, with many different chocolate samples along the way.
For dinner, we went to the University Village neighborhood to dine at Din Tai Fung. Din Tai Fung is a restaurant that originated in Taiwan and specializes in soup dumplings, and other types of dumplings. It was so crazy how we could watch the team of people cranking out basket after basket of these dumplings. After another hour long wait, we consumed so many dumplings, green beans, and noodles!
On our final day in Seattle, we shopped, got massages at our hotel, and laid by the pool. I have no photos from these activities, but I assure you everything was amazing On our final night, we really went out with a bang! We headed over to the Capital Hill neighborhood for some major eating. The night started at Lark, a beautiful restaurant with royal blue velvet booths, 150 twinkling lights overhead, and a wine wall spanning the length of the restaurant. I loved the seasonal menu featuring locally sourced cheese, vegetables, and meats. The highlights were the burger with sunchoke chips, and the tri-colored carrots with truffle honey sauce.
After Lark, we walked to Trove to get dessert. Trove was just named one of the “50 Best New Restaurants in America” by Bon Appetit magazine. Within the restaurant, there are four different concepts: a bar, a noodle bar, a Korean BBQ restaurant, and a walk-up “food truck” window called Parfait, that offers layered frozen custard parfaits. When we arrived, we checked out the place. The Noodle bar looked so amazing, we truly could not resist. Throwing all caution to the wind, we sat down for a second, lets just call it “mini”, dinner! We shared the Garlic Chive noodles, which consisted of shrimp, cherry tomatoes, shaved asparagus, crispy spinach, and the most amazing coconut red curry sauce. I am not kidding you when I say this was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted! I was feeling a little sad that we had just eaten before this, because I wanted more! Thankfully my pants were stretchy, because we ended the night by sharing a Pike Street Mud Pie parfait, which was coffee custard, chocolate cookie crumb, chocolate fudge, and peanut butter crunch. Oh boy!
Although we needed to be rolled home from Seattle, we had such an amazing trip! I loved the city even more than I thought I would. We had perfect weather and did not see the rainy, dreary city that Seattle is known to be. In fact, I could pack my bags and move there if it was always like it was for the few days we were there! There were so many great things to do, see and eat; I highly recommend Seattle for a summer getaway.
The last few weeks have been busy; with traveling two weekends in a row, and then my parents visiting us, I haven’t been able to pull it together to make anything more elaborate than tried-and-true dishes that I can make with my eyes closed (like this one)! Now that things have calm down a bit, I am hoping to get back in the kitchen and try some new summer dishes.
I’ve had this Sweet Corn Soup with Crab on my list to make for almost a month, and it just so happens that I finally got to make it…on the hottest day of the year. Yay! Not so much. While I can eat soup all year round, I don’t blame my husband for protesting this meal while our weather app says “98 degrees, feels like 104”. Once we got past the whole hot soup in the summer problem, it was all about enjoying the beautiful sweet corn that makes up this majority of the soup. I used a nice large onion that, when cooked with the corn, helped off set the sweetness. The Sweet Corn Soup is fabulous on its own, but when garnished with peas, crab and basil, the soup reaches a whole new level. Hopefully the heat won’t deter you from trying this recipe while sweet corn is still at its peak!
I loved this tip from Cooking Light: use a bundt pan when cutting corn kernels from the cob. Prop up the corn in the middle of the pan and cut downward, using the pan to catch the corn. This worked so well and was far less messy than when I’ve just used a plate to catch the corn.
I used good quality canned crab meat, but feel free to use fresh for even better taste.
The idea of a veggie sandwich to most carnivores is as appealing as nails on a chalkboard. However, with the right ingredients and proper seasoning, a vegetable sandwich has the potential to be just as good, if not better than one containing meat. The look on my husband’s face as I presented him with his dinner, this Mexican-style Grilled Vegetable Sandwich, was a look of doubt and disappointment. Although the sandwich looked appealing, he was not excited about what was between the bread. But once he sunk his teeth into the grilled zucchini, roasted red pepper, onion, avocado and bean spread on crispy ciabatta bread, his face changed to a look of surprise and delight. We were both happy with how tasty the Cooking Light recipe turned out. I want to mention that there are a few different steps involved with making this sandwich, but to have a vegetarian meal that is both healthy and delicious, means it is worth the effort!
A few weekends back, one of our couple friends invited us over for a delicious Saturday brunch. The meal consisted of a gluten-free Asparagus and Gouda Quiche, a Summer Peach Salad, and a beautiful fruit salad. It was so much fun spending time with our friends, while enjoying the fabulous food. What a treat to have someone else cook us brunch! I loved the Summer Peach Salad that my friend made so much, I decided to recreate it myself. This is the perfect go-to salad for all of your warm weather entertaining. With seasonal fresh peaches, pistachios, red onion and feta topped with an simple balsamic dressing, this salad is too good and too easy to make only once! While you’re thanking me all summer for this recipe, I’ll be thanking my friend.
(If you’re wanting a similar salad when peaches aren’t in season, check out this Harvest Salad)