Summer Collab 2017

If you’re anything like me, the actual table is often not the place where meals and snacks and drinks and late night bowls of cereal get consumed. It’s the floor, the cheap white plastic chairs out on the porch, the couch with the Great British Baking Show running the background (the show is SO good!). Now, I am not particularly proud of how often our dinner plates end up NOT at the dinner table, but sometimes you just gotta switch it up.

That’s exactly what we did last Saturday night after spending hours shopping, gluing, stirring, DIYing, cooking, assembling, and photographing: We sat on pillows and ate dinner and drank chilled white wine.

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In other words, it was COLLAB DAY. But in all seriousness, I can’t believe that we’re already in the third installation of the Katie Ann + Sampled collab. I mean… that’s NUTS. Right?! It seems like just a few weeks ago that we were planning a Thanksgiving extravaganza. Speaking of nuts… (Keep scrolling for the recipe!)

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Katie and I always have such a blast planning these fun little gatherings and meals and when it all comes together for a refreshing Saturday night dinner, well that alone makes it ALL worth it. Plus, how pretty are those details that Katie planned?

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As you may remember from past collabs, I do the food planning, testing, and cooking while Katie does the hostessing details, DIYing, and photographing. One of my favorite details of Katie’s planning this time around were the little wine charms that she made. ADORABLE.

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SO, just in time for the Fourth of July, here are some simple recipes and DIYs to take your gathering’s flavor and comfort a little beyond the hot dogs and lawn chairs. (Check out Katie’s post for all the details on her DIYs and decor!)

Recipes

Wine pairing: We drank Riesling to bring a chilled, refreshing zing to a lighter meal.

Greek Couscous Salad
Every time I say anything about couscous, Joshua always says “The food so nice, they named it twice.” Haha! But it’s kind of true. Couscous is definitely a comfort food of mine and considering my obsession with tomatoes, cucumbers, and all things acidic, well this is heaven in a bowl.

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Ingredients:
1 cup chicken stock
3/4 cup couscous (I used regular, but you could also use pearl.)
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 cup chopped cucumbers
2 TBSP minced shallot (about half of one—you can use the whole shallot if you like a lot of onion-y flavor)
2 TBSP red wine vinegar
2 TBSP olive oil
2 tsp lemon juice
1 TBSP oregano
Salt

Directions:
Bring chicken stock to a boil. Add couscous, stir, and then remove from heat and cover for five minutes. After five minutes, fluff with a fork and let sit to cool. Meanwhile chop tomato, cucumber, and shallot and toss together in a bowl. Then combine vinegar, lemon juice, and olive oil. Whisk until well incorporated. Combine couscous with the veggies and pour vinaigrette over it. Sprinkle salt and oregano over the salad and stir to combine.

Depending on the acid level you like, add a few more drops of vinegar or lemon juice until the flavor is perfect. Let the flavors soak in by chilling in the fridge for an hour. Serve with feta or crumbled goat cheese!

 

Garlic Hummus + Pita
Hummus is only as good as the ingredients its made with. SO go big or don’t go into the hummus land at all. Skip the jarred beans and grab a bag of garbanzo beans off the shelf instead. (In case you’re confused–garbanzo beans and chickpeas are used interchangeably.) Also, indulge in good tahini. Right now, I’m using the Whole Foods 365 brand of tahini.

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Ingredients:
1 cup dried garbanzo beans
1/2 cup tahini
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 cloves garlic
1/4 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cumin
Salt
2 TBSP olive oil
2-4 TBSP cold water, if needed

Directions:
Soak the beans overnight or for at least 8 hours. To soak, cover with water and stir in 1 TBSP of baking soda. Adding the baking soda to your soaking water helps to soften the beans up.

The next day (or 8 hours later), rinse the beans well and cover with water in a pot. Add another tablespoon of baking soda to it and bring to a low boil. Let the beans boil for at least 10 minutes. From there, start testing your beans. The longer you boil them, the softer and smoother your hummus will be. BUT, keep an eye on it, boiling these babies creates a lot of foam! After you reach your desired softness, remove from heat, scoop off any remaining foam, and drain.

While the beans are boiling, combine the tahini, lemon juice, and garlic in a food processor. Blend together. If the mixture clumps up on you, add cold water, one tablespoon at a time until you get the consistency you want. I added two to this hummus, but I have added up to four in the past for a smoother hummus. Then add the beans and blend until smooth. Lastly, flavor with salt, cumin, and coriander. Top off with about two tablespoons of drizzled olive oil, and sprinkle with parsley, if you so desire.

Pita Bread
Okay, ya’ll. You know how much I love pita bread. BUT, this recipe is even BETTER than the last. The addition of wheat flour makes the pita that much more filling and perfect for dipping (or stuffing with leftover chicken and tomatoes for a sandwich on day two). ALSO, did you know that the secret to encouraging your pita to make a pocket is to roll it uber thin? It’s true. So go on, try it. You won’t want store bought ones again!

Ingredients:
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup warm water, preferably at 110 degrees
1 packet of yeast, or 2 1/4 TBSP yeast
2 TBSP olive oil
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp salt

Directions:
Mix the whole wheat flour, water, yeast, olive oil, cumin, and salt together. Once well incorporated, add the all purpose flour. Knead for about 10 minutes, then grease a bowl with some olive oil, plop the dough in there, cover, and let rest for an hour.

After an hour, divide into six equal balls. Rather than roll the dough into an odd circle in between your palms, try holding the dough with your fingertips and tucking the sides under, one side at a time, to form a perfect round mound. Doing this helps in the next step when it’s time to roll them out. Let the balls rest for 20 minutes, then roll out into circles on a lightly floured surface. They should be pretty thin!

Place the rolled out pitas on baking sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes at 500. Then grab your pita and don’t stop until it’s gone. Okay, maybe stop. Don’t eat it all on your own.

 

Chicken Kebabs
Seriously, you guys, I have a problem with tomatoes. I could eat them all day long, every day, every year! And these kebabs once again bring together one of my favorite vegetables (I mean, fruit… never getting used to that one) with one of my favorite vinegars for a juicy, stomach-warming bite. 

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Ingredients:
2 chicken breasts
2 cups of cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 TBSP oregano
2 tsp salt

Directions:
Cube the chicken, trying to keep the size consistent. You can opt to cut the tomatoes in half if you have a lot of small chunks of chicken. Otherwise leave them whole so that you don’t have a ton of halves left.

In a clean bowl, whisk together the vinegar and oil. Add the oregano and salt and whisk again. Pour about 1/3 of the mixture over the tomatoes and the other 2/3 over the chicken. Let those two marinate for at least 30 minutes, preferably 1-2 hours.

While the chicken is marinating, soak your skewers in water (if you’re using wood). To assemble, simply alternate chicken and tomato on the skewers. Grill the skewers or cook on a pan in the oven for about 20-30 minutes (depending on the size of your chicken) at 375.

Roasted Balsamic Mushrooms
The only thing that could make those kebabs better is if they were accompanied by the occasional skewered mushroom. But help! I have no luck with getting mushrooms on wooden skewers without them splitting and promptly falling off! So I opted for the pan instead. Maybe it’s time to upgrade to steel skewers ;).

Ingredients:
2 cups baby portobella mushrooms
Olive oil
Salt & pepper
2 TBSP balsamic vinegar

Directions:
Clean mushrooms by wiping dirt off with a clean paper towel. Don’t use water! Washing your mushrooms in water is actually bad for them since they soak up so much of the liquid, resulting in a mushy and soggy final dish. No one wants that when it comes to mushroom time.

Pour a few glugs of oil into your pan and heat over medium heat. Drop in the mushrooms, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook for five minutes. Flip and cook for another five minutes. After the complete 10 minutes, splash the balsamic vinegar over the mushrooms and let them cook for another 2-4 minutes, depending on size.

 

Panna Cotta
It should be considered a societal sin to not have panna cotta at least once a month during the summer. It’s the perfect mix of light and refreshing while still satisfying the sweet tooth. Go make it NOW.

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Base Ingredients:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup sugar
2 TBSP honey
2 tsp vanilla extract
I cinnamon stick
1 packet gelatin
3 TBSP cold water

Peach Compote Ingredients:
2 cups of chopped peaches
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp lemon juice

Honeyed Walnuts Ingredients:
1 cup of chopped walnuts
1/4 cup sugar
2 TBSP water
2 TBSP honey

Panna cotta needs to set for at least four hours so make sure that you plan ahead. Combine the heavy cream, sugar, honey, vanilla, and cinnamon stick in a pot over medium low heat. Stir to incorporate until all the sugar has dissolved. The mixture should be relatively hot, but not at risk of boiling. If it looks like it’s about to boil, reduce the heat immediately. Meanwhile, sprinkle the gelatin over the three tablespoons of cold water. Let that sit for a few minutes. After the sugar has dissolved in the cream mixture, remove from heat and pour over the gelatin. Whisk to combine the gelatin with the cream. Pour into ramekins or cups. Chill in the fridge for at least four hours.

Peel your peaches and cube. Transfer to a pot with the sugar, vanilla, and lemon juice. Simmer on medium heat for at least 30 minutes, stirring consistently. After 30 minutes, you can either blend to your desired consistency with an immersion blender or you can transfer to a blender to blend completely. I prefer the immersion blender because it allows for fuller control over the consistency and I want just a few chunks sticking around. Remove from the pot and transfer to the fridge to cool.

Chop the nuts to your desired consistency. Then combine the sugar, water, and honey in a pan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and let boil for about three minutes. Pour the mixture over the nuts and spread out on parchment paper.

To assemble your panna cotta, spoon the peach compote on top of the panna cotta, and sprinkle honeyed walnuts on top. Enjoy!

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