fresh green juice

fresh green juice

Fresh juice has become something that I’ve really become quite passionate about. It’s a delightful way to incorporate fresh, wholesome, and incredibly nutritious fruits and vegetables into your day. I find it to be one of the most delicious ways to enjoy raw produce, too. Just one glass of fresh juice is a wonderful addition to your daily diet. Because pure fruit juice is high in sugar, I typically balance out my juices with a decent amount of vegetables. My favorite go-to blend is fresh green juice.

greensapples

So I’ll be honest – I love vegetables, but I can’t quite get to the point where I’m snacking on handfuls of raw spinach and kale. Neither can you? Rest easily – fresh juice made from these greens is heavenly. Blended with the sweetness of fresh apple juice and the brightness of lemon juice, the greens shine so beautifully. It’s a juice so delicious that I can’t get enough of it! I find myself rationing batches of fresh juice throughout the day because I know once it’s gone, I’ll be disappointed. It’s so refreshing, so fruity, a bit tart – all things I adore. [Note that if tartness isn't a flavor you cherish as much as I do, you can certainly scale back on the lemon. I find the lemon to add a 'green lemonade' effect - which makes me love it even more.]

lemonlemon

Juicing is really gaining popularity – you can now find several bottled juices at your local supermarkets. It’s much more affordable to make your own at home, though. There are two types of juicers – centrifugal and masticating. Both have their advantages, but I find centrifugal juicers much more practical. I’ve used both, and to be quite honest, the masticating juicers are so tremendously arduous to use and clean, that I find them to be not worth the effort. I am much happier with my centrifugal juicer. If you’re looking for a juicer, a great place to start is this one. It’s incredibly quick to juice with, it’s easy to use, and it’s a cinch to clean. It’s a high quality appliance and an affordable entry into the world of juicing. Thanks to inspiration from Lora Krulak, I’m now totally in love with juicing, so now it’s my turn to share the inspiration. Try it – you might become just as fond of juicing, too!

fresh green juice

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fresh green juice

Invigorating and slightly tart, this is my favorite drink. It instantly energizes me and provides incredible nutritional benefits. Dial up or down on the apples and lemons, depending on how sweet and tart you prefer your juice to be.

Serves 2

Juice the following:

1/2 bunch kale
1 small bunch swiss chard (about 5 stalks and their leaves)
3 stalks celery
1 large cucumber
2-3 apples, depending on the level of sweetness desired

Add the juice of 1-2 small lemons (depending on how tart you like your juice,) stir, and enjoy immediately.

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dill yogurt dip

dill yogurt dip + crudités

As warmer weather becomes more prevalent, as does my desire for light and refreshing snacks. This Dill Yogurt Dip was inspired by an incredible dill sauce that I enjoyed while I was in Lithuania last spring, amongst many other fantastic dishes that I loved there. Well-herbed with flecks of dill, it also had a slight tang to it – but above all, it was refreshing, creamy, and light. I knew I had to re-create it at home. It’s a cinch to bring together, and it pairs well with various crudités, pretzels, crusty bread, and much more. Effortless and tremendously customizable is a well-liked combination lately.

dill yogurt dip ingredientsdilldill yogurt dip

You may not have a preference for a specific Greek yogurt, and if so, I really suggest Fage Greek Yogurt here, as other brands that I’ve tried so far don’t seem to obtain the creaminess and richness that Fage has. I don’t have an affiliation with Fage – I just really love their brand of yogurt! I use Total or Total 2%. If you already have a brand you love, then proceed with that. After all, the last thing I would want to do would be come between you and your long-term relationship with the one and only yogurt for you. I think you’ll find this dip to be a lovely afternoon snack with crudités of choice, a handful of pretzels, or some thick crusty bread.

dill yogurt dip + pretzelsdill yogurt dip + pretzelspretzels and dill yogurt dipdill yogurt dip + crudités

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dill yogurt dip

Refreshing and healthy, this dip makes a perfect snack or appetizer alongside your favorite crudités, pretzels, crusty bread, and more.

1 cup Fage Plain Greek Yogurt [I suggest either Fage Total or Total 2%]
2 1/2 teaspoons dried dill
1 tablespoon white vinegar
3-4 tablespoons milk, or more as needed to bring the dip to desired consistency [I used almond milk]
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Sea salt, to taste, if desired

For serving:
Pita Crisps, pretzels, crusty bread, etc.
Crudités: carrots, cucumbers, radishes, bell peppers, celery, cherry tomatoes, etc.

To make the dip, fold the Greek yogurt, dill, and vinegar together until combined. Add milk to achieve the desired consistency. Season with black pepper and sea salt, to taste, if desired. Keep chilled. Stir the dip immediately before serving. Enjoy with various crudités, pretzels, crusty bread, etc.

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pasta salad

pasta salad

Nothing screams ‘picnic season’ like a generous side of pasta salad. Arguably, no picnic is complete without some type of cold pasta dish. Alongside something barbecued and a pile of baked beans, pasta salad is one of my favorite warm weather accompaniments. Little bits of crunchy, colorful vegetables, a tangy dressing, and al dente rotini – pasta salad speaks to me.

ingredientscooked pastasliced bell peppersdiced peppers

This salad is incredibly easy to bring together – a simple boil of the pasta and dice of the vegetables, then toss it all together in an olive oil and vinegar marinade. The pasta salad is beautifully flecked with Italian seasonings and big chunks of salty feta cheese. The entire dish is tangy, fresh, and so satisfyingly savory. The great thing about this pasta salad is it keeps well at room temperature, making it a great pick for warm, sunny days where keeping a dish in the refrigerator is simply out of the question. Plus, it’s one of the most budget-friendly dishes, too.

pasta + peppers and onions + dressingcreamy, dreamy fetapasta salad + feta

Feel free to kick up the seasonings a bit, add a few more splashes of vinegar, and so forth – make it your own. But take caution; only make these adjustments a few hours after the pasta is initially made and has a chance to absorb the marinade. The flavors of the salad will develop together as it chills in the refrigerator. If you plan on making the salad significantly ahead of time (the day before, for example), just scale back on the dressing a bit and add a bit more the day you plan to serve the salad. Remember to give the salad a toss before serving. Easy, delicious, and simple – such a lovely combination. Enjoy!

pasta saladpasta salad

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pasta salad

A picnic favorite, pasta salad is a fresh and easy side to throw together. It keeps well and becomes even better as it sits, as the flavors will meld together.

1 pound rotini pasta
1 red bell pepper, diced finely
1 green bell pepper, diced finely
1/4 red onion, diced finely
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons dry Italian seasoning mix
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
1 cup feta, crumbled

Boil the pasta according to package directions, removing the pasta from heat about a minute before the suggested window. Immediately drain the pasta and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, toss the diced bell peppers and onions. Add the pasta and toss. Pour the red wine vinegar and olive oil on top of the pasta, and toss well to coat. Add the Italian seasoning mix and toss well. Season with freshly cracked black pepper, to taste. Add the feta, and gently fold into the salad. Let chill for a minimum of 4-6 hours, preferably overnight. Taste the pasta salad after it has chilled and adjust any seasonings, if necessary. Toss before serving.

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market freshness

kale + brussels sprouts

With the coming of spring, my excitement heightens for freshly-picked, wholesome produce. Perhaps it’s the revival of color around me, or the warmth that slowly wakes me from near-hibernation status; but I seem to crave freshness unlike any other time of the year. Naturally, I get pretty excited when I visit the market and see all that there is to offer. Needless to say – my cart always ends up being filled to the brim with a wide selection of the colorful freshness that spring has to offer. I’m like a kid in a candy store, really.

swiss chard + spinach

Greens are a must for my weekly cart – you can’t beat the nutrition that comes with them. I change it up from spinach, kale, swiss chard, collard greens, and so forth – they each have their own unique tastes and nutritional profiles. They’re essentials for my fresh-pressed juices and smoothies. I’ll be sharing one of my favorite fresh green juices soon – stay tuned! Until then, check out my spring green smoothie recipe.

radishes + tomatoes + avocadoes

I like to try new ingredients and change up my standard produce selections, too. Avocadoes, of course, are a necessity. I generally have at least 2 or 3 on hand, as I eat them regularly – especially now that I have a new favorite avocado toast with fried egg breakfast featuring the decadent fruit. Tomatoes were also an alluring pick this week – they were so ripe, I could smell their sweetness before I even picked one up to inspect. This week’s trip also featured a bunch of radishes, which drew me in with their rich, red coloring. I’ve been enjoying them throughout the week, and developed a new recipe to enjoy them even further. I will be sharing it soon!

cucumbers + pears + grapefruits

Cucumbers are a staple when I make my freshly-pressed juices and smoothies, so they are usually a standard weekly purchase. I love fresh fruit as afternoon snacks – they are so vibrant and provide such a great burst of energy. I’ve loved pears ever since I was a little girl. Grapefruits, especially perfectly ripe and juicy ruby-red ones, have always been such a special treat. I love that wonderfully tart and sweet flavor. Fresh-pressed grapefruit juice is one of my very favorite things in the world!

lemons + kiwi + sweet potato + carrots + shallots

Lemons are also a staple for my morning turmeric and lemon infused water. Kiwis make for lovely afternoon snacks, as well, and they bring such a tropical note to your day. Sweet potatoes, carrots, and shallots went into the cart, as well – you can never really have enough of these on hand, can you?

Flashback to the produce-selection process: remember the two camps of people I talked about in my chocolate drizzled strawberries post? Do you throw the items into your cart immediately, or wait for one to speak to you?

Cheers to the freshness of spring and all the color it brings into our kitchens! What’s in your cart this week?

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brunswick stew

brunswick stew

It seems that this year, the season of Spring is terribly reluctant to stay for awhile. It peeks its head in, bringing beams of sunshine and warm breezes with it, and then retreats into the shadows of winter’s cessation for a few days. Until Spring no longer wavers in its decision to remain, I’m still deeming meals like soups and stews completely appropriate. After all, until you can comfortably prop the windows open for a week or so, it’s still stew-weather in my book. Brunswick Stew is a notorious favorite amongst BBQ establishments – hearty, boldly flavored, and filling. I served many bowls of this stew years ago when I worked at a BBQ restaurant, and I’ll never forget the comfort that it brought, especially on rainy, windy, or chilly days. It’s a perfect meal for when winter’s grasp won’t tire.

stew ingredientschopped celerychopped onion

Brunswick Stew is famously known for its base: crushed tomatoes and BBQ sauce. As a result, it is fully-bodied and carries a good amount of heat, depending on which BBQ sauce you select. I choose a vinegar-based sauce, as I like the spicy notes in my stew. I would be wary of using your favorite sweet BBQ sauce here, as it might produce a stew that is sweeter than desired. It’s then packed with shredded chicken, lima beans, and corn. Seasoned further with onions, celery, garlic, and aromatic bay leaves – it simmers away on the stove until the stew is thickened and its flavors are well-integrated. As with many stews, it’s fairly simple. The stew pairs wonderfully with a hearty square of cornbread – together, it’s a foolproof combination to endure the last bit of winter’s reach. Best enjoyed, of course, with some BB King or Albert Collins in the background.

crushed tomatoes + bbq sauce + bay leavesstew + bay leaves

brunswick stew

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brunswick stew

Adapted from The Joy of Cooking

For the chicken:
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast, trimmed of excess fat
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot sauce

For the stew:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onions, diced
1 cup chopped celery, diced [I used more, about two large stalks]
1 large clove garlic, minced
3 cups fresh or canned lima beans
3 cups fresh or canned sweet corn kernels
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup BBQ sauce [I used Carolina Treet]
2-3 bay leaves, depending on their size and strength
a few drops of Worcestershire sauce, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
Minced parsley, for garnishing

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Mist a glass dish with olive oil, and place the chicken breasts into the dish. Coat with the 1/4 cup of Frank’s hot sauce, and pour 1/4 cup of water into the bottom of the dish. Cover tightly with aluminum foil, and bake until the chicken reaches 175 degrees F internally, about 55-60 minutes. Let the chicken rest in the pan, covered, for about 10 minutes. Remove the foil, and carefully transfer chicken breasts to a large work surface. Shred the chicken using two forks. Set aside.

Warm the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat. Add the onions and celery, and saute until softened, about five minutes. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant. Add the lima beans; stir gently. Add the crushed tomatoes, chicken stock, BBQ sauce, and bay leaves; stir gently until combined. Bring to a boil, and then simmer over low heat until the stew thickens and all the flavors are well-incorporated, about 1 hour. Return the chicken to the pot, add the sweet corn, a dash of Worcestershire, to taste, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Simmer 15-20 minutes more.

Serve hot with a sprinkle of minced parsley.

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bread and butter pickles

bread and butter pickles

In honor of our new-found spring weather, ladies and gentlemen – Bread and Butter Pickles. The quick method, of course – because I much prefer it to an entire day’s worth of canning activities. After all, gorgeous days are meant to be spent in the sunshine. The best thing about these pickles is that they can be made in the morning, requiring very little active prep time, and will be ready for your afternoon picnic. Yes – it can be done! No canning experience required.

cucumber + onioncucumberonion

Ready in only a few hours, these pickles are the quick way to satisfying your pickle craving. If you’ve been burned before by an ultra-sweet bread and butter, fret not – this recipe is easily adaptable to your preference of sweetness. Dial up or down on the spices, too – I find them to be quite enjoyable and they really scream ‘homemade’. If you like your pickles somewhat tender, feel free to cook them a bit longer on the stove top after you bring the cucumbers to a boil. I added caraway seeds in my batch – and it added such a lovely sharpness. I love the little slivers of pickled onion in this recipe, too.

pickle spicescucumber + onion + spices

There is something about homemade pickles that just seems to solidify spring. Throw them on a sandwich, garnish your plate, or steal a few for a snack – these pickles are perfect savory little bites to welcome the warm weather. To beautiful, sunny, and picnic-filled days ahead!

bread and butter picklesbread and butter pickles

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bread and butter pickles

Ready in only a few hours, these pickles are the quick way to satisfying your pickle craving – no canning experience required. This recipe is easily adaptable to your preference of sweetness, as tastes vary wildly. Dial up or down on the spices – I find them to be quite enjoyable. If you like your pickles somewhat tender, feel free to cook them a bit longer on the stove top after you bring the cucumbers to a boil.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes 4 cups of pickles

1 pound cucumbers, sliced 1/4-inch thick — “pickling” or kirby cucumbers work best
1/2 large sweet onion, quartered and very thinly sliced
1/4 cup Kosher salt [use 1/8 cup if you're using regular table salt]
1/2 to 3/4 cups sugar [I use honey]
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1/4 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds (if ground, use 1 teaspoon) [I used caraway seeds instead - fantastic!]
1/8 teaspoon celery seeds

Mix the cucumber slices, onion slices, and salt together in a medium bowl. Cover with ice, and chill for two hours. Drain and set aside.

Over medium heat, bring the sugar, vinegar, turmeric, mustard seeds, coriander seeds (or caraway) and celery seeds to a boil. Add in the cucumbers and onion slices. Bring the mixture back to a boil, and stir well to ensure the cucumbers and onions are thoroughly coated in the pickling liquid. Cook for a minute or two [if you like a more tender bite] and remove from heat. Let cool and store in an air-tight container.

The pickles will be ready in a few hours, but they are even better the next day. They will keep for three weeks in the fridge.

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lately

Hi everyone! Happy Spring from Simple Pairings!

Time to crawl out of the blankets and follow the sunshine. Here is a peek at what I’ve been up to lately; seeking sunlight, happiness, and a healthy dose of indulgence every now and then.

Dazzling, vivid, and sunny weekend mimosas with a ripe strawberry. Fresh orange juice, paired with crisp champagne, makes for one very invigorating and refreshing way to start the morning. Those two simple ingredients really elevate a casual morning into something special and elegant. An easy way to class up brunch and relax into the weekend!

Importantly, it’s Girl Scout cookie season! Has everyone been rationing their stash? Aside from being completely delicious and incredibly habit-forming, I love these little treats because they remind me of when I was a little Scout years ago. Did you know I was a door-to-door cookie saleswoman back in the day? Many cookies have come and gone, but the classics have always stood the test of time. One of those is Samoas – one of my top picks. Chocolate + coconut + caramel + cookie layer. Just divine.

Birthday tea! My sweet friend Kelly surprised me at work with a box of this tea. I love all kinds of teas, so I’m always excited to try new varieties. This organic berry herbal tea from Higher Living is fantastic! Sweet notes of hibiscus, rosehip, acai berries and blueberries make for an energizing and zingy drink.

Speaking of tea, I love my cups of Yogi Tea – and a big part of the experience is the uplifting message that accompanies it. Each tea bag is strung with a little positive thought to meditate on as you take that first sip. Just when you thought tea couldn’t get any more relaxing, right? I love their Bedtime Tea at night.

Fresh local doughnuts – instant happiness. One of my favorite splurges is hitting the doughnut shop down my street. The moment I walk through the door, my knees get weak from the heavenly smell of yeast-raised doughnuts. They have quite the selection, too – it’s always a struggle to try to pick the ones in which ones to fill the box. That’s why having a game-plan before getting into line is critical – a seasoned veteran move at the doughnut shop.

…Which brings me to one of my all-time favorite doughnuts, Boston Creme, aka Bavarian Creme. Chocolate + Custard + Yeast-Raised Doughnut = pure bliss. Despite much indecisiveness at the counter, there is zero uncertainty about whether or not I’ll pick this one. Boston Creme always seems to make it into the doughnut box, and I never regret it.

Finally, we have gorgeous, sunny, spring weather. I’m making the most of it by putting my feet up, sipping on turmeric and lemon infused water, and catching up on some much-awaited reading. One book that I’ve really been enjoying lately was recommended by one of my biggest yoga inspirations, Rachel Brathen, and I’m loving every bit so far. It’s an empowering look at seeking happiness and enlightenment by appreciating the present.

What have you guys been up to lately? Enjoying and making the most of the first bit of spring?
Words to live by: do what makes your soul happy. xx

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